Progreso mayor and other public officials arrested

Progreso mayor and other public officials arrested
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 4:20pm

Jose Guadalupe Vela, Jr. and his two sons, Omar Vela and Michael Vela, were arrested today and already made their initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate judge this afternoon.

Omar Vela is the mayor of Progreso.  His brother, Michael, is the president of the PISD Board of Trustees, and their father, Jose, is the maintenance and transportation supervisor for PISD.

The Vela family members are facing charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, violations of the travel act, theft, and bribery.  The three defendants are currently in custody pending a detention hearing next Tuesday.

If convicted, all charges carry a possible maximum fine of $250,000.

According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly acquired several thousand dollars from the city of Progreso and PISD.

In 2004, a construction company paid Omar about $85,000 to be gired to work on several projects in Progreso.  From 2008 to 2009, an attorney allegedly paid $10,000 to all three defendants to be hired as local counsel at PISD. From 2009 to 2012, Omar Vela is alleged to have stolen more than $14,000 from PISD and the City of Progreso.

PISD Superintendent Fernando Castillo commented on the event, saying, "We are saddened by the events...we want to assure parents that school activities are moving along just fine."

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