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Faced with wire fraud charges, Weslaco businessman surrenders to FBI agents

Weslaco businessman Rick Quintanilla — a key player in the Weslaco water treatment plant bribery case — surrendered to FBI agents Thursday.

Ricardo “Rick” Quintanilla, 52, of Weslaco surrendered Thursday morning to face new charges: conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and wire fraud, according to Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

cuffs fingerprintsQuintanilla is accused of participating in a bribery scheme that involved businessman Sunil B. Wadhwani and the Weslaco Economic Development Corp.

Wadhwani paid “thousands of dollars in bribes,” to people affiliated with the Weslaco EDC. In exchange, the Weslaco EDC approved a $300,000 development agreement for his new hotel.

Quintanilla and a former member of the Weslaco City Commission were involved in the scheme.

Quintanilla is also a key player in the Weslaco water treatment plant bribery case.

He’s accused of accepting nearly $86,000 from Leonel J. Lopez Jr., a Starr County power broker, and splitting the money with Weslaco City Commissioner Gerardo “Jerry” Tafolla.

In exchange, Tafolla and members of the Weslaco City Commission steered about $50 million worth of infrastructure contracts, including work on the local water and wastewater treatment plants, to specific engineers.

Lopez and Tafolla negotiated plea agreements with prosecutors. Quintanilla, however, pleaded not guilty.

Quintanilla may appear before a federal magistrate judge Thursday morning.

His attorney, Robert L. Steindel of Edinburg, declined to comment.

Check back for updates.

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