Prosecutors to Question Witness in Bribery Trial
CORPUS CHRISTI – Seven charges against the Cameron County tax-assessor collector on trial were dropped Monday morning.
Tony Yzaguirre Jr. won’t be facing two charges for bribery and five charges for abuse of official capacity.
Mel Sosa, the man who allegedly was paying Yzaguirre bribes for illegal car title transfers, took the stand in the morning.
He testified he’d put $100 for each title in an envelope and leave it on Yzaguirre’s desk. He also said he never saw Yzaguirre take the envelope.
Sosa told jurors he struck a deal with DPS investigators. He went undercover and wore recording devices during his meetings with Yzaguirre.
He also told juror he agreed to testify in exchange for immunity, as offered by the state.
Several recordings were also played in court, in which Yzaguirre and Sosa are heard interacting. Some of the recordings were difficult to understand, so prosecutors had to read transcriptions to the jury. Other parts were deemed inaudible.
Sosa told the jurors that although he agreed to work with DPS investigators, he didn’t know how often he would be recording Yzaguirre or even how to use the recording devices.
He also said he never took money from the money used in the undercover operation, as defense attorneys suggested last week.
He did testify that not all his car title transfer requests were approved by Yzaguirre’s office.
Defense attorney Eduardo Lucio argued that Sosa has a lot to benefit. He brought up a previous two-year stint he had in federal prison back in the 90’s and got Sosa to testify that he did not want to go back to prison ever.
Lucio also questioned Sosa over and over about how many times he had met with prosecutors to discuss his testimony often catching him in contradictions.
In relation to the case, Sosa testified the state offered him immunity for his truthful testimony. If not, he faces nine felony charges and possibly jail time.
Lucio argued that’s the reason Sosa is testifying against Yzaguirre and willing to say whatever will keep him out of jail.
Questions about tickets for Yzaguirre’s campaign BBQ tickets kept coming up. Lucio argued that any money that Sosa gave Yzaguirre was ticket money for the events.
The last thing Sosa told the jury is that he never put money in Yzaguirre’s hand and Yzaguirre never mentioned that money for the car titles.
Prosecutors will have a chance to regroup and question Sosa again on Tuesday.
The tax-assessor collector still faces 15 charges for bribery and abuse of official capacity.