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Sentencing for former La Joya mayor delayed until December

A federal judge on Monday delayed the sentencing of former La Joya Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas until December.

Salinas, 83, of La Joya participated in a scheme to award a public relations contract to his daughter’s friend.

Former La Joya Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas (center wearing the tan jacket) left the federal courthouse in McAllen on July 19, 2021, after pleading guilty to wire fraud. (Photo by Dave Hendricks / The Progress Times.)

The friend — a local teacher named Sylvia Garces Valdez — received a $12,000 retainer after Fito Salinas signed the contract. Garces Valdez paid $7,000 to the mayor’s daughter, Frances Salinas, according to a criminal complaint filed in December 2019.

Fito Salinas pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge in July.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop other charges against Salinas, which accused him of participating in schemes to defraud the city and the La Joya Economic Development Corp. The allegations, however, may become a factor at sentencing.

Attorney Richard E. Zayas of Brownsville, who represents Salinas, filed a lengthy objection to the pre-sentence investigation report. He requested 60 days to discuss the objections with prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane granted his request on Monday and rescheduled sentencing for Dec. 2.

Fito Salinas faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. His attorney, however, argued in a motion that Fito Salinas should be eligible for probation.

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