South Texas Mayor, City Manager Convicted for Bribery Scheme

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez is taken away from city hall by police, in Crystal City, Texas, after allegedly disrupting a City Council meeting while fighting a recall effort that began before his indictment this month in a public corruption investigation …
AP File Photo: Kin Man Hui, San Antonio Express-News

The mayor and city manager in Crystal City, Texas, were convicted of demanding bribes from contractors in a pay for play scheme leaving the City in arrears.

Former Mayor Ricardo Lopez and City Manager William James Jonas were convicted of various corruption, bribery, and fraud charges by a jury following a short federal trial in Del Rio.

As Breitbart Texas reported, Lopez, James Jonas, former Mayor-Pro-Tem Rogelio Mata, former City Councilmen Roel Mata, and Gilbert Urrabazo; as well as local businessman Ngoc Tri Nguyen were charged in early 2016 on several corruption charges. The case followed a lengthy FBI investigation into a bribery scheme that included most of the city government. All but the Lopez and James Jonas previously pled guilty and were awaiting sentencing.

After the verdict was read, the mayor and city manager were taken back into federal custody until sentencing.

Information released to Breitbart Texas by the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed that from May 2012 to February 2016, multiple officials used their positions to demand bribes from contractors and others looking for municipal contracts.

James Jonas was also convicted for his role in a fraud scheme where he misused approximately $2.3 million in city bonds originally issued to pay for infrastructure improvements. The bond funds were to be deposited in an account specifically for those purposes, however, Jonas paid his salary and other expenses.

At the time that the funds were deposited, the account balance was $2,207,050,62. By the end of October 2015, the account contained $2,199.95 while the City owed $735,048.79 to a company that performed infrastructure improvements. 

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon.  You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at


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