BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS (ValleyCentral) — A judge set bond Tuesday for former Progreso school board President Francisco “Frank” Alanis, who is charged with smuggling cocaine.
During a hearing on Tuesday morning, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ignacio Torteya III set bond at $250,000. Frank Alanis must post a $15,000 cash deposit.
“There’s no indication from any source that he would not make every court appearance,” said attorney Carlos A. Garcia of Mission, who represents Frank Alanis, adding that his client is a longtime public servant who poses no danger to the community. “And so we think the court made a very thorough and thoughtful decision when setting the conditions of bond.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alejandra Andrade, who is prosecuting the case, asked the court to prohibit Frank Alanis from communicating with his brother, Progreso Mayor Gerardo “Jerry” Alanis; Progreso school board President Juan J. Ramos Jr. and Progreso police Chief Cesar Solis.
Andrade didn’t explain her request, which typically applies to co-defendants, victims and witnesses. Garcia said he didn’t know why the government requested that condition.
“That’s the first I hear of it — today in court,” Garcia said. “I will note that those persons are not named in the indictment. So I don’t know how it is or where it is the government has whatever information that it may have.”
Ramos and Solis declined to comment. Jerry Alanis didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Frank Alanis is part of a powerful family that controls Progreso.
His brother, Jerry Alanis, is the mayor. Another brother, Alejandro “Alex” Alanis, serves on the school board.
The family started consolidating power in 2013, when the FBI arrested Progreso school board President Michael R. Vela and his brother, Progreso Mayor Omar L. Vela, on public corruption charges.
Frank Alanis followed the Vela family playbook, stacking the school board and local Board of Aldermen with supporters.
The Progreso Independent School District hired members of the Board of Aldermen, including Jerry Alanis.
Frank Alanis and members of the school board, meanwhile, found jobs with the city.
Agents with Homeland Security Investigations, which is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, arrested Frank Alanis on Oct. 13.
The indictment against Frank Alanis charged him with one count of conspiracy and two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. If convicted, he faces 10 years to life in federal prison.
Agents also searched the old Progreso ISD administration building, where Jerry Alanis works, said Kevin O’Hanlon of Austin, an attorney who represents Progreso ISD.
“It is now called the ‘technology building’ because that’s where our servers are located,” O’Hanlon said.
Superintendent Sergio Coronado said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety participated in the search.
What, if anything, they found remains unclear.
Progreso ISD is cooperating with the investigation.
“We have made multiple contacts with law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office with respect to cooperation,” O’Hanlon said. “We have made records available to them so that they can do their job.”
During a school board meeting on Monday afternoon, the board voted to remove Frank Alanis from his position as president. Trustees voted 6-0 to replace him with Ramos, a longtime member of the board.
“Our focus is going to be the same goal as we always had since Day 1: Move the district forward,” Ramos said.
Frank Alanis couldn’t attend the school board meeting because he remained behind bars. He appeared in court Tuesday morning wearing an orange jail uniform.
With both hands cuffed to a chain around his waist and his ankles cuffed together, Frank Alanis walked awkwardly through a courtroom on the second floor of the federal courthouse in Brownsville.
Garcia, the attorney who represents Frank Alanis, suggested a $100,000 bond with a $10,000 cash deposit and a co-surety.
Frank Alanis graduated from Progreso High School, married his high school sweetheart and settled in Progreso, where they raised three children, Garcia said. He’s an assistant city manager for the city of Progreso and serves on the Progreso school board.
“He, again, has worked as a public servant for many years and is a good candidate for bond,” Garcia said.
Frank Alanis plans to resign from the school board, Garcia said, but is ready to return to work at City Hall.
While he may be able to find another job, Garcia said that Frank Alanis needs to support his family.
Andrade, the federal prosecutor, asked the court to place Frank Alanis on home detention and require electronic monitoring.
Frank Alanis made about 74 trips to Mexico during the past 6 months, Andrade said. His last trip to Mexico took place the day before his arrest.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Oct. 25 to remove information about the government requesting text messages between Superintendent Sergio Coronado and members of the Progreso school board.
During an interview with CBS 4 News, Kevin O’Hanlon, an attorney who represents Progreso ISD, said the school district had provided the government with text messages between Coronado and the school board.
Mr. O’Hanlon misspoke.
Progreso ISD received a public information request for the text messages; the government did not request that information.