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Peñitas mayor resigns after pleading guilty to federal theft charge

Peñitas Mayor Rodrigo “Rigo” Lopez quietly resigned on Thursday, when he pleaded guilty to a federal theft charge.

The city of Peñitas didn’t announce the mayor’s resignation. Asked on Thursday if Lopez had resigned, City Manager Humberto “Beto” Garza III declined to comment.

Lopez’s attorney, however, provided state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa with a copy of the mayor’s resignation letter on Sunday.

“I have had the pleasure of serving my hometown community as Mayor since I was first elected in 2015, and it has been an honor to serve alongside you as leaders of this great city,” Lopez wrote in a letter addressed to the City Council and community. “In just a few short years, together, and in collaboration with our local, regional, state, and federal partners, we have accomplished so much that has contributed to the growth and prosperity of our region.”

Peñitas Mayor Rodrigo “Rigo” Lopez. (Photo courtesy of the city of Peñitas.)

The letter didn’t mention the indictment against Lopez or his decision to plead guilty.

“Together, we have planted the seeds for our future generations to enjoy, as is evident by the economic growth that has transformed our community with major business developments, improved drainage and transportation infrastructure projects, and attracting families to live and stay in Peñitas, because of the improved quality of life. I am proud to have played a role in helping our city grow and positive progress will continue,” Lopez wrote. “Knowing that the city will remain in good hands under your leadership, I hereby tender my resignation as Mayor. I thank the community and residents of Peñitas for their support over the years, and I thank each of you as well. It has been a sincere honor to serve this great community, and I wish you all the best. GOD Bless!”

Lopez and his attorney, Tony Torres of Edinburg, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.

Lopez hadn’t attended a City Council meeting since April. In his absence, City Councilman Ramiro Loya — the mayor pro tem — presided over meetings.

In June, a federal grand jury indicted Lopez on theft charges. He struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty on Aug. 11.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 31. Lopez faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.

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