MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Two Peñitas officials pleaded guilty to their roles in a bribery scheme and agreed to forfeit nearly $1 million.
Peñitas Chief of Staff Andres Morales and council member Alex Guajardo plead guilty on Friday, Jan 21, according to a press release from the United States Department of Justice.
As part of the pleas, Morales and Guajardo agreed to pay $739,910.71 and $202,000, which they gained as part of the scheme.
The payments they received in the bribery were “in exchange for official votes or recommendations in support of granting energy savings contracts at various Hidalgo County political subdivisions,” the release stated.
Morales and Guajardo admitted to receiving over $1 million and $275,000 in the scheme and paying thousands in bribery and kickback payments, including to La Joya ISD trustees and an administrator in exchange for official votes.
Morales also plead guilty to making false representations in connection with the purchase of a firearm.
Both individuals face up to five years in federal prison for the conviction, the release stated. Morales faces a maximum of five years additionally for the firearms offense.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, with assistance from the Department of Agriculture, Texas Department of Insurance and the McAllen Police Department.