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Architect Arrested in Connection with Progreso Bribery Scheme

U.S. Attorney’s Office January 15, 2014
  • Southern District of Texas (713) 567-9000

MCALLEN, TX—Jesus Bustos, 57, has been arrested on charges of conspiracy and bribery associated with a federally-funded program, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Bustos was charged in a sealed superceding indictment, returned January 8, 2014, and unsealed this morning upon his arrest. He is expected to make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby at 9:00 a.m. in McAllen.

The superseding indictment alleges Bustos participated in a bribe paying scheme in Progreso. Bustos is accused of paying bribes to public officials in Progreso in order to obtain contracts on public construction projects for his architectural firm, IDEA Group LLC.

Also indicted are Jose Vela, the former director of maintenance and transportation for the Progreso Independent School District (PISD), and his sons—mayor of Progreso Omar Vela and former president of the PISD Board of Trustees Michael Vela. The Vela family defendants are accused of using their control of Progreso municipal government and the PISD Board of Trustees to extract bribes and kickbacks from contractors, including IDEA Group. PISD receives more than $1 million per year in federal funds from the United States Department of Education, according to the indictment.

Beginning in June 2004, the Vela family members allegedly conspired with Bustos and others to obtain bribes and kickbacks from IDEA Group and from a construction company that were both hired as contractors by the city of Progreso and PISD. According to the indictment, bribes were also paid by an attorney who was hired as local counsel to advise the PISD Board and by a company that supplied the city of Progreso and PISD with electrical and plumbing supplies.

The indictment alleges Jose Vela maintains political control in Progreso through his sons Omar and Michael. Jose Vela allegedly controls members of the PISD Board through a system of reward and retaliation in which board members who vote as Jose Vela directs are rewarded with bribe money, while those who do not follow his direction are retaliated against. Through this system of political control, the Vela family was able to obtain bribes from Bustos and other willing contractors.

If convicted, Bustos faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

The FBI investigated the case and Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Johnson is prosecuting.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

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