FBI informant takes the witness stand in bribery case against Brownsville ISD trustee

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A jury heard opening arguments Monday in the federal bribery case against Brownsville school board Trustee Sylvia P. Atkinson.

Atkinson is accused of placing an item on the Brownsville school board agenda — and advocating for her fellow school board trustees to approve it — in exchange for $10,000.

The FBI arrested Atkinson in December 2019 after conducting a sting operation.

Atkinson pleaded not guilty and took the case against her to trial.

Prosecutors and attorneys for Atkinson made their opening arguments Monday at the federal courthouse in Brownsville.

After opening arguments, a Brownsville political consultant named Rodrigo Moreno took the witness stand.

Moreno, an immigrant who isn't lawfully present in the United States, worked for the FBI in exchange for deferral of his deportation. He testified for about six hours.

Moreno recorded meetings with Atkinson. Prosecutors said he recorded Atkinson discussing the purchase of tablets by the Rio Hondo school district, finding ways to market an independent movie she co-financed with Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez and accepting the $10,000 bribe.

Watch the video for the full story.


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