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Former city finance director files libel lawsuit against La Joya mayor

Former city Finance Director Gregoria Jackson filed a lawsuit against La Joya Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas and a city receptionist on Wednesday, claiming they posted “defamatory, slanderous and libelous” comments about her on Facebook.

Gregoria Jackson filed the lawsuit against Mayor Salinas and Angela Salinas, a city receptionist, on Wednesday afternoon.

cityoflajoyalogo “You can express your opinion all you want. You’re protected by the First Amendment,” said former City Attorney Roberto Jackson, who represents his sister. “You just can’t make factual assertions of something you know to be false.”

City Manager Jacqueline Bazan terminated Gregoria Jackson in July, when La Joya eliminated the finance director position.

Her brother, Roberto Jackson, supported former police Chief Isidro Casanova against Mayor Salinas during the mayoral campaign. Casanova and Mayor Salinas are scheduled for a runoff election on Dec. 10.

The lawsuit didn’t specify what Mayor Salinas and Angela Salinas — who aren’t related — posted about Gregoria Jackson.

Facebook posts viewed by the Progress Times, however, show an account with the name “Angela Salinas” posted a comment about Gregoria Jackson and Robert Jackson on Tuesday.

“Yes the FBI was at City Hall but the 10 boxes the FBI took were from the Finance Dept.,” according to the Facebook comment. “They also took copies of the checks paid to the attorney, by his sister. All fraud.”

FBI agents executed a search warrant at City Hall in mid-August, when they hauled away boxes of documents. What, exactly, the FBI took remains unclear.

In response to a public information request filed by the Progress Times, the city of La Joya stated that FBI agents didn’t provide the city with a receipt, copy of the search warrant or any other document showing what records had been taken.

The Progress Times also viewed a similar Facebook comment posted by Mayor Salinas.

“The FBI raided the finance department, including checks made out to the attorney by his sister. No invoices submitted,” Mayor Salinas wrote. “All the boxes were from that dept. I signed the FBI report. Yes arrests are coming because those 2 individuals no longer work at the city.”

Mayor Salinas and Angela Salinas posted the comments on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the lawsuit.

“The statements made by Defendants were false and the Defendants knew at the time of the posting that said statements were false,” according to the lawsuit. “Said comments were posted intentionally and with the sole intent of defaming Plaintiff’s character and causing consternation to her person; at the time of said posting, Defendants knew or should have known that said comments were not true.”

Asked about the allegations, Mayor Salinas said he didn’t know what Facebook posts Gregoria Jackson and Robert Jackson found defamatory.

“And I know that Gregoria Jackson has put stuff out on me,” Mayor Salinas said. “So I don’t know where he’s coming from.”

The lawsuit claims Gregoria Jackson suffered physical pain and severe mental anguish because of the Facebook posts. Her lawsuit seeks damages of $200,000 to $1 million.

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