SEPTEMBER 02, 2008
A veteran public school board member in a large Texas district has been arrested and charged with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes as part of a broader public corruption scheme that has already led to the guilty pleas of several officials.
According to an eight-count federal indictment, El Paso Independent School Board District trustee Salvador Mena took bribes from vendors seeking multi million-dollar contracts for more than a decade. Around nine vendors paid Mena close to a quarter of a million dollars during his 12-year tenure with some of the money disguised as campaign contributions and some delivered in cash that was stashed in his desk drawer.
In the indictment prosecutors outline the shady deals that Mena orchestrated to cheat taxpayers over the years. His motes operandi was to take hefty sums of cash and other benefits in exchange for his vote to award multi million-dollar contracts to various companies and his help in securing additional lucrative contracts in other districts.
Mena, who faces four decades in prison and a $1 million fine, is one of many public officials targeted by federal authorities in the widespread corruption probe that has seen guilty pleas from a county judge’s chief of staff, a county commissioner and an architect who admitted he bribed Mena. An arraignment for Mena, who was bailed out of jail by his cousin, is scheduled for next week.
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