HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Peñitas administrators are facing pressure from state elected officials to remove a city council member that pleaded guilty to contributing to a multi-million dollar bribery scheme.
On Friday, Texas Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-20) sent a letter to Peñitas Mayor Rodrigo Lopez concerning city council member Alex Guajardo, who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to vote in favor of an energy savings company.
“It is in the best interest of the City of Peñitas and its residents that Mr. Guajardo no longer continues to hold any city office or position,” stated Hinojosa in the letter. “State law requires state legislators and state officers convicted of a felony to vacate their office automatically.”
Guajardo pleaded guilty in January to accepting millions in a scheme orchestrated by Performance Services Inc., (PSI) and paying thousands in bribery and kickback payments, including to La Joya ISD trustees and an administrator in exchange for official votes.
Guajardo is one of several western Hidalgo County officials to be indicted through an FBI investigation. As of Feb. 14, former La Joya ISD trustees Armin Garza and Jose Luis Morin and Peñitas Chief of Staff Andres Morales pleaded guilty to similar charges.
Hinojosa reminded Mayor Lopez that the final date to order a special election for Guajardo’s position is Feb. 26 and city officials should immediately put forward this action.
It is unclear if Lopez has responded to Hinojosa’s email, however, Guajardo remains listed on the city’s website as a city council member and the city has yet to publically list a meeting to schedule an election for his position.