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Hidalgo County assistant district attorney arrested on federal charges

A Hidalgo County assistant district attorney was arrested Monday by federal authorities.

Cynthia Alanis, 27, was taken into custody following the return of an indictment alleging she made a false statement to authorities in a bribery investigation, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

The charge stems from a bribery investigation involving four individuals -including Alanis’ brother McAllen attorney Roel Alanis. They were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery in relation to obtaining immigration detainee roster lists.

Benito Barrientez, Exy Adelaida Gomez and Damian Ortiz were the three other individuals named in the release.

According to the release, Barrientez and Ortiz were employed at the Willacy County Regional Detention Center and Gomez was a corrections officer at the El Valle Detention Center in Raymondville.

The indictment accuses Barrientes, Ortiz and Gomez of obtaining immigration detainee roster lists-which contained names, dates of birth and other personal information-from the El Valle Detention Center and the Port Isabel Detention Center-Los Fresnos while employed in their respective capacities which was then sold to Roel Alanis.

Roel Alanis would then visit the detained immigrants who then allegedly for the purpose of hiring his law firm as their attorney in immigration proceedings. Alternatively, he would instruct his sister or others to do so, according to the charges.

The indictment against Cynthia Alanis alleges she falsely stated she did not receive nor know of any detainee roster lists given to the Alanis law firm. However, the charges allege she had previously received detainee roster lists and also knew of such lists given to the law firm.

In a statement, Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez Jr. confirmed the arrest and added that Alanis had been fired

“It is my understanding that the charges filed are unrelated to any of the work performed by the former employee in this office. The District Attorney’s Office will cooperate with any federal investigation,” Rodriguez said in the statement.

If convicted, Alanis faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Alanis is expected to make her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ignacio Torteya III at 2 p.m. today.

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