Former La Joya mayor and daughter sentenced in fraud schemes

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After pleading guilty to fraud charges last year, two former officials with the city of La Joya learned their fate Thursday.

Former La Joya Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas and his daughter – Frances Salinas De Leon - were sentenced to 33 and 39 months in federal prison, respectively, for their roles in defrauding the city in separate schemes.

A third individual – Ramiro Alaniz – was also sentenced to nine months in federal prison for his involvement in a kickback scheme that involved Salinas and De Leon.

Salinas was sentenced for his role in a public relations contract he approved in 2018. Under that contract, the city hired a friend of De Leon to handle public relations for the city in exchange for $2,000 per month and a $12,000 retainer. 

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According to the criminal complaint against her, De Leon then instructed her friend to cash the $12,000 check and deliver a portion of it to her.

De Leon was sentenced for a separate scheme where she pled guilty to defrauding the city’s economic development corporation out of thousands of dollars.

According to the indictment against De Leon, she and her father and La Joya Housing Authority maintenance director Ramiro Alaniz borrowed money from the city’s EDC from 2016 through 2018 for an adult daycare center that was never completed.

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During that time period, De Leon, who served as the housing authority’s interim executive director, requested more than $416,000 in loans to complete the Arcoiris day care center, according to the indictment.

As chairman of the EDC board, Salinas voted to approve the loans.

De Leon would then write checks to subcontractors, who would in turn cash them out and give the money back to her, the indictment states. Alaniz would also receive kickbacks from the project, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As part of a plea agreement made last year, De Leon agreed to provide restitution to the La Joya EDC, the La Joya Housing Authority, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the city of La Joya.

Salinas was previously charged with defrauding the city of La Joya in a separate scheme that involved the purchase of the mayor’s home at an inflated rate.

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“[U.S. District Judge Randy Crane] noted how the case demonstrates the culture of corruption that existed in La Joya at the time of the schemes, adding that while public office is for service and self-sacrifice, Salinas used his position to benefit himself and his family financially,” the news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated.

All three individuals must serve three years of supervised release pending their sentences. They remain on bond pending transfer to an undetermined prison facility.


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