South Texas School Officials Indicted in Extortion Scheme

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

McALLEN, Texas (AP) - A superintendent for a Rio Grande Valley school district and several board members are accused in an extortion and contract scheme.

Federal investigators in McAllen report the case involves contracts allegedly steered to certain firms -- in exchange for bribes such as trips, weapons and tickets.

-- The superintendent of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District -- Arturo Guajardo -- turned himself in Tuesday.

-- Pharr school board members Raul Navarro and Evangelina De Leon were arrested today, as was De Leon's husband, Ricardo.

-- Board member Rogelio Rodriguez was arraigned in the new indictment May 31.

-- George Hernandez, who owns a contracting business but is also president of the Donna I-S-D school board, was arrested Tuesday.

Hernandez and Harlingen insurance agency owner Arnulfo Olivarez are accused of offering bribes -- in exchange for favorable votes on contracts between 1998 and 2004.

Olivarez is expected to surrender.

The indictment charges all defendants with conspiracy to commit extortion, and the school officials are also charged with extortion.

All counts carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years in federal prison and fines of up to 250-thousand dollars.

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