Superseding indictment filed against BISD trustee

Federal prosecutors this week filed a superseding indictment in the bribery case against Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees Vice President Sylvia Atkinson.

The trustee and former Texas Southmost College employee faces eight federal counts of conspiracy, bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, and violation of the Travel Act-State Law Bribery.

Prosecutors accused Atkinson of allegedly soliciting and accepting a $10,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for placing a local film company’s project proposal on the school board agenda.

Atkinson faces up to 45 years in prison and a fine that could total $2 million, in addition to any funds collected through the alleged conspiracy subject to forfeiture.

The counts listed in the new indictment against Atkinson haven’t changed. Court records showed that the trustee has been scheduled for a second arraignment on June 19 before U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez, Jr.

Under the section “Manner and Means of the Conspiracy”, two paragraphs allege Atkinson specifically “demanded and received what were often alleged to be campaign contributions, but which in reality were bribes” and that Atkinson never reported those funds as campaign contributions, were removed.

The rest of the superseding indictment contained no new allegations.

At the state level, a petition filed by Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz to remove Atkinson from her position on the school board is pending. A motion hearing in that case is scheduled for June 29 in the 107th state District Court before Judge Benjamin Euresti, Jr.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com