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Former ADA pleads guilty in bribery case

Nearly one year following her arrest, a former Hidalgo County assistant district attorney pled guilty Wednesday for her role in a bribery case that involved her brother.

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 indictment.
According to the indictment, Barrientez and Ortiz were employed at the Willacy County Regional Detention Center while Gomez worked as 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. The lists were then sold to Roel Alanis from August 2018 to January 2019.

In that time, Roel Alanis would then visit the detained immigrants on the lists to get them to hire his law firm to represent them in immigration proceedings.

Cynthia, Roel’s sister who is also an employee at her brother’s law firm, would also visit detainees to solicit them for Roel’s law firm.

Roel was arrested in 2019 and Cynthia was questioned about the case. The indictment against Cynthia Alanis alleges she falsely stated to federal authorities saying she did not receive nor know of any detainee roster lists given to the Alanis law firm.

“The statement and representation was false because, as defendant then knew, she had previously received detainee roster lists and also knew of such lists given to the law firm,” the indictment stated.

Cynthia, who worked as an assistant district attorney for the county, was fired after her arrest last year. She entered a plea of not guilty in her initial arraignment following her arrest where bond was set at 450,000 and she was charged with making false/fraudulent statements to federal authorities, punishable with up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

On Wednesday, however, Cynthia changed her tune and pled guilty to the charge following a plea agreement where she waived her rights to a trial. U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera set her sentencing hearing for May 5.

Roel, who entered a plea of not guilty July 2019, is scheduled to go before District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr . for a final pretrial conference set for next month.

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