Former La Joya housing exec avoids bond revocation

The former interim executive director of the La Joya Housing Authority, Frances A. Salinas, had to answer for drug tests that came back positive for marijuana use, a violation of her current bond conditions.

Salinas appeared in federal court Thursday via telephone conference after U.S. District Judge Randy Crane received information alleging she violated the conditions of her supervised release by twice testing positive marijuana use.

Her initial test in February came back positive but she denied the marijuana use. A second test, however, taken March 6 not only confirmed the positive result but showed a spike in marijuana use.

That last test, taken on March 27, came back negative, according to Daniel Mata Canchola of Probation and Pretrial Services.

Salinas told Crane that while she had used marijuana prior to her arrest, she had not used any since.

In explaining the first two test results, she said that after the first drug test, she was placed on five or six medications due to mental health issues and believed that was the cause of the spike in the second test.

“ I honestly feel that the beginning of February, after my first UA (urinalysis), that the second, now with all of my medications, spiked whatever was still in my system,” Salinas said, “and that’s what I honestly feel because I have not touched anything, sir, in any way.

“ I know it’s a privilege to have this release and to be out. I could be in jail waiting.”

The government, represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarina S. DiPiazza, requested that Salinas be placed in in-patient drug treatment but Crane declined, stating he would need to see another positive drug test before resorting to that.

Crane left Salinas’ current conditions in place but requested that her probation officer increase urine surveillance.

The daughter of former La Joya Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas and current La Joya Commissioner Mary Salinas, Frances Salinas, 52, was arrested on Dec. 23 in San Antonio on charges of wire fraud.

The charges stem from an alleged bribery scheme between her and Sylvia Garces Valdez — a former public relations employee of the city and former vice chair of the La Joya Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.

The government alleges that Salinas helped Garces Valdez obtain a contract for the public relations position in the city. In exchange, Garces Valdez agreed to pay Salinas part of the money she was set to receive through the contract, according to the criminal complaint.

Garces Valdez was arrested and charged in connection to the case in August 2019.

Fito Salinas, the former mayor, was arrested in February for allegedly participating in the scheme by approving Garces Valdez’s contract.

All three are currently on supervised release.