Progreso mayor arrested on charges in bribery scheme

Progreso mayor arrested on charges in bribery scheme

POSTED: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 10:26am

UPDATED: Monday, September 2, 2013 - 6:12am

The United States Attorney's Office has indicted Progreso Mayor Omar Vela and other family members on charges in a bribery scheme.

On Wednesday, August 28th an indictment was unsealed after the arrest of Jose Gaudalupe Vela Jr., 64, and his son's Omar Leonel Vela, 35, and Michael Vela, 29, who were charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, violations of the Travel Act, theft and bribery.

All three men are alleged to be participants in a scheme to create a "pay to play" public contracting system in the City of Pregreso. The men are accused of using their influence in the municipal government and the Board of Trustees of the Progreso I.S.D. to get bribes and kickbacks from service providers.

The 10 count indictment alleges from June 2004 until the date of the indictment all three men received kickbacks from several service providers such as a construction company, an architectural firm, an attorney to advise the Progreso I.S.D.  and a business which supplied the school district and city with electrical and plumbing supplies.

Jose Vela was employed as the maintenance and transportation supervisor for P.I.S.D., Omar Vela as the mayor of the city and Michael Vela who was the president of the P.I.S.D. Board of Trustees. All three are accused of using a system of reward and retaliation on members of the P.I.S.D. board.

Between the years of 2004 to 2006, Omar Vela was allegedly paid $85,000 in bribes for construction projects, $10,000 from 2008 to 2009 from an attorney for legal services and $14,000 from 2009 to 2012 in fraudulent invoices to the P.I.S.D. on electrical and plumbing supplies.

All three men appeared in court and were ordered temporarily into custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for next Tuesday, September 3rd at 11 a.m.

To view the indictment click on the PDF file attached.

Vela, et al 13-551.pdf688.15 KB

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