Former La Joya mayor arrested in fraud scheme

Local News

MCALLEN, Texas – The former mayor of La Joya has been indicted on two counts of wire fraud relating to a public relations contract and the purchase of real property.

Authorities arrested Jose “Fito” Salinas, 81, today. He is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Juan Alaniz 11 a.m. tomorrow (Feb. 13).

A federal grand jury returned the indictment Feb. 11. It was unsealed today upon his arrest.

From June 2018 to approximately November 2018, the City of La Joya entered into a public relations contract with Sylvia Garces Valdez, according to the charges. As a condition for receiving the contract, the mayor’s daughter – Frances Salinas De Leon – was to allegedly receive a portion of the contract’s payments.

The indictment alleges that from January 2016 to approximately July 2016, Salinas devised a scheme that resulted in the City of La Joya purchasing property he owned at a highly-inflated rate.

If convicted, Salinas faces up to 20 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 maximum fine. The indictment also includes a notice of intent to forfeit $235,000.

Former La Joya Housing Authority member Valdez, 39, La Joya, is also charged in relation to the scheme as is former interim executive director for the La Joya Housing Authority – De Leon, 52, La Joya. They face up to 10 and 20 years in prison, respectively.

The FBI, Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarina S. DiPiazza and Roberto Lopez, Jr. are prosecuting the case.

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