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FBI Nabs Brownsville ISD VP on Bribery Charges

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BROWNSVILLE – A Brownsville Independent School District board member was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday and charged with bribery.

Sylvia P. Atkinson, the vice president of the BISD Board of Trustees and former official of Rio Hondo ISD, is facing charges for conspiracy, bribery using federal funds and bribery of public officials.

According to the federal indictment unsealed after her arrest, she used her position to obtain money from private companies and people.

In one incident, the government details a "movie project" where they used a "cooperating individual" and an undercover FBI task force officer to coordinate a series of meetings with Atkinson on December 2018. The goal was to use the school facilities in a "Hollywood" movie in exchange for money, or bribes.

A sum of $4,000 was paid to Atkinson to get the film project on the February school agenda and another $6,000 was issued to her after the item was passed unanimously by the board.

According to the indictment, Atkinson told the cooperating individual who expressed interest in paying future bribes, "I can assure you that what you need to get done, in this area, will get done."

Due to electronic communication during the alleged crime, Atkinson is also facing charges for Travel Act violations.

Atkinson is being held on no bond. Federal Judge Rolando Olvera will be overseeing this case in the Brownsville Division of the Southern District of Texas.

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