MCALLEN, Texas – A former Weslaco City Commissioner and a former Hidalgo County Commissioner, were arrested today on charges of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Criminal complaints were filed today in the Southern District of Texas against former Weslaco City Commissioner 56-year-old John Cuellar of Weslaco, and former Hidalgo County Commissioner 65-year-old Arturo “A.C.” Cuellar Jr. of Hidalgo County. They are charged with conspiring to bribe a Weslaco City Commissioner in exchange for official actions favorable to three engineering companies and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Daniel Garcia, 40, an attorney based in Rio Grande City, was also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to the complaint, starting in approximately March 2008, John Cuellar agreed to accept bribes from three engineering companies that were funneled through Cuellar Jr. and others.
John Cuellar and another Weslaco City Commissioner would then allegedly take actions favorable to the three companies in relation to contracts to rehabilitate and rebuild Weslaco’s water treatment facilities.
According to the complaint, from approximately April 2008 through December 2015, Lopez received approximately $3.7 million from two engineering companies and shared approximately $1,398,000 with Cuellar Jr. The complaint further alleges Cuellar Jr. used a company he controlled to pay John Cuellar approximately $405,000 disguised as legitimate legal expenses. In exchange for these payments, Cuellar allegedly took several official actions to benefit the three construction companies, including the award of a $38.5 million contract to rehabilitate Weslaco’s water treatment plant.
The complaint further alleges Lopez and Cuellar Jr. enlisted Garcia, an attorney, to launder approximately $90,000 in bribe payments to John Cuellar through Garcia’s interest on lawyers trust account.