Federal prosecutors have brought new charges against a former mayor of La Joya and his daughter stemming from various alleged schemes involving the construction of a daycare center and the La Joya Housing Authority.
In a superseding indictment filed Wednesday, former Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas and Frances A. Salinas, his daughter and former interim executive director of the La Joya Housing Authority, are both facing three counts of wire fraud.
A former city employee, Sylvia Garces Valdez, is also named in the indictment and is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of federal programs bribery related to a scheme detailed in a previous indictment in this case.
The new charges allege Fito Salinas, Frances Salinas, and other unnamed individuals participated in a kickback scheme involving the construction of Arcoiris Daycare Center.
In November 2016, Frances allegedly drafted a letter that granted her full authority over the daycare project, including its finances.
She then allegedly helped the owners of Arcoiris LLC receive multiple loans from the La Joya Economic Development Corporation for the construction of the daycare center.
Prosecutors claim Frances instructed project contractors to inflate invoices to hide that they were paying her kickbacks with the money loaned to the owners of Arcoiris LLC.
Fito Salinas, as the mayor, served as chairman of the EDC board and allegedly voted to approve those contracts.
Additionally, Frances Salinas is accused of embezzling money from the account holding funds for the Arcoiris project through cash and ATM withdrawals.
Attorneys representing Frances and Fito Salinas did not return a request for comment as of press time.
These new allegations are in addition to the previous claim that Fito, Frances and Garces Valdez were involved in a bribery scheme for which they were already charged prior to Wednesday’s indictment.
Prosecutors allege that Salinas helped Garces Valdez obtain a public relations contract with the city. In exchange, Garces Valdez allegedly paid Salinas a portion of the money she made from that contract.
The government claims that Frances helped Garces Valdez obtain the contract by influencing Fito, her father.
On Thursday, Frances waived her right to appear at her arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges in the superseding indictment.
Fito Salinas and Garces Valdez are scheduled to be arraigned on those charges on Sept. 24.