Three More Eagle Pass Businessmen Indicted in Connection with Maverick County Bribery, Kickback, and Bid-Rigging Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 21, 2013|
In Eagle Pass this morning, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, along with Texas Department of Public Safety investigators, arrested 64-year-old Saul Lombrana, owner and operator of Fiesta Contractors based in Eagle Pass, in connection with an alleged bribery, kickback, and bid-rigging scheme, announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez.
Lombrana is charged by a federal grand jury indictment returned yesterday with one count of paying a bribe to an agent of an organization receiving federal funds. According to the indictment, in March 2011, Lombrana submitted a $14,500 bid to construct 155 linear feet of concrete drain swell on Rafael Street in Precinct 1. Lombrana was awarded the contract. The indictment alleges that Lombrana never constructed the concrete drain swell but requested and received full payment for the project. The indictment also alleges that in exchange for being awarded the contract, Lombrana paid a monetary bribe to a Maverick County employee.
In addition to indicting Lombrana, the federal grand jury sitting in Del Rio returned separate indictments against 46–year-old Alejandro Wheeler, owner and operator of TVAW, a media outlet based in Eagle Pass, and 55– year-old Marcelo Alvarez, a surveyor and consultant in Maverick County. Alvarez surrendered to federal authorities this morning. Authorities are still looking for Wheeler.
Wheeler is charged with one count of aiding and abetting paying a bribe to an agent of an organization receiving federal funds and one count of aiding and abetting theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. According to his indictment, in 2010 and 2011, Wheeler and Maverick County commissioners devised a scheme to have two contractors awarded Maverick County construction contracts. As part of the scheme, Wheeler allegedly received money from the contractors and the commissioners received bribes from the construction funds, as well as discounted campaign advertising and media time.
Alvarez is charged with one count of paying a bribe to an agent of an organization receiving federal funds. According to his indictment, from 2010 to 2012, Alvarez corruptly paid money to Maverick County officials, including two county commissioners, in order to guarantee that engineering, project management and consulting services contracts valued at approximately $800,000 were awarded to a specific company. Alvarez, in turn, was designated as the Resident Project Representative on those projects and received payment for his services.
Upon conviction each charge calls for up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Individuals who have first-hand information about corruption, fraud, or bribery related to Maverick County are urged to contact the FBI at (210) 225-6741. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Galdo and Bryan Reeves are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.