Texas Border Mayor Pleads Guilty to Corruption
The current mayor of Progreso, Texas, 36-year-old Omar Leonel Vela, is tangled in a bribery case in which he admitted to accepting more than $300,000 in bribes. Last year Vela was charged for his role in the pay-to-play scheme with his brother Michael Vela, President of the Progreso Independent School District (PISD), and his father Jose Guadalupe Vela Jr., a supervisor for the PISD. In an April 2 plea agreement, Omar Vela plead guilty to multiple charges, including conspiracy and bribery.
According to an indictment obtained by Breitbart Texas, from 2004 through 2013, contractors competing for jobs at PISD were forced to pay Vela a fee. The companies were then paid to provide various services for PISD with a portion of the district's $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
The plea agreement states that the Velas received $300,000 in bribes from an architect, a construction company and an attorney. After making the bribe payments, the contractors all performed work for PISD.
An FBI press release also states that Vela ordered a plumbing company to submit fake invoices for work that was never performed. After the company received a government payment of $14,000, the money was turned over to Vela.
The Velas were able to carry out their scheme, undetected, for many consecutive years due to the power they collectively held in local government. The plea agreement said, "The Velas were able to extract bribes from contractors as a result of their political control of Progreso and PISD... In addition, Jose Vela controlled the PISD School Board by rewarding with bribe money board members who voted as he directed."
A spokesman from the City of Progreso told Breitbart Texas that although Vela is still currently the town's mayor, he is expected to step down sometime in April.
"The town commissioners are most likely going to accept Vela's letter of resignation next week," the spokesman said. "As of right now, he's still the mayor. But we don't pay mayors or commissioners in Progreso."
Vela Indictment by BreitbartTexas
Vela Plea by BreitbartTexas
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate