A Texas border city mayor pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges for using his position as a local school administrator to rig a contract for his benefit.
Late last week, 38-year-old Rodrigo “Rigo” Lopez, the mayor of Penitas, Texas, went before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez and pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge. Alvarez is expected to sentence Lopez in late October, which could lead to 10 years in prison.
Authorities first arrested Lopez in June at the Hidalgo Port of Entry when he was returning from Reynosa. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Lopez worked with the La Joya ISD athletic director to carry out purchasing frauds in 2018. Until recently, Lopez had been an administrator at La Joya ISD.
Federal prosecutors revealed that Lopez used his personal business, Xizaka LLC, to rig a contract worth more than $70,000 in sporting goods sales to the district. These included 156 baseball gloves, 15,400 square feet of turf, and three pitching machines — all at inflated price-points. Prosecutors claim Lopez filed 20 invoices as a way to hide the costs. He received $34,923.70 in profits, court documents revealed.
Lopez is one of several public officials from South Texas who have pleaded, charged, or are under investigation for contract rigging cases involving local government jurisdictions. More than a dozen officials from municipal offices or school boards in the Rio Grande Valley have been indicted or pleaded guilty to charges in 2022.
Luisana Moreno is a contributing writer for Breitbart Texas.