Former El Paso Independent School District Trustee Salvador 'Sal' Mena Sentenced to Federal Prison in El Paso Corruption Case
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 16, 2013|
In El Paso this morning, former El Paso Independent School District Trustee Salvador “Sal” Mena was sentenced to three years in federal prison for accepting more than $176,000 in cash bribes in exchange for his vote and official influence, announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist, El Paso Division.
In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Frank Montalvo ordered that Mena forfeit to the federal government $176,455 and be placed under supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term. Mena was remanded into federal custody following today’s hearing.
Previously, Mena pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and deprivation of honest services. By pleading guilty, Mena admitted that he set up a sham consulting contract with an EPISD vendor whereby he received income, but provided no consulting services. Additionally, in exchange for his vote, support, and influence for vendors, he instructed vendors seeking to do business with EPISD to make contributions to his election and re-election campaigns.
This morning, Judge Montalvo also sentenced former El Paso resident Christopher Chol-Su Pak to three years of probation and ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine for helping former El Paso businessman Roberto “Bobby” Ruiz in carrying out his bribery scheme that focused on a $40 million El Paso County debt refinancing contract. Earlier this month, Ruiz received a two-year federal prison term and a $175,000 fine for his role in the scheme.
In sentencing Pak to a term of probation, Judge Montalvo took into consideration the government’s recommendation regarding Pak’s sentencing based on Pak’s expeditious cooperation with the government and minimal benefit as a result of the corrupt conduct.
“Today’s sentencing of Mr. Mena and Mr. Pak demonstrates the FBI’s unwavering commitment to target those individuals involved in public corruption in the El Paso community. Entrusted to serve the citizens of El Paso, Mena and Pak instead used their influence to promote their own personal interest,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist.
This FBI investigation has resulted in 39 federal convictions—36 individuals who entered guilty pleas and three individuals who were convicted by juries.
Assistant United States Attorneys Debra Kanof and Jose Luis Gonzalez prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.