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Agua SUD served with federal grand jury subpoena for records on former general manager

The FBI wants to know more about former Agua Special Utility District General Manager Jose E. “Eddie” Saenz.

Agua SUD received a federal grand jury subpoena for records on Saenz and his company, CSJ Group, in mid-July.

“Right now, since Agua SUD is involved in civil litigation related to some of those issues, I am kind of limited on what I can and cannot talk about,” said Agua SUD board President Esmeralda H. Solis. “But I can assure you Agua SUD is cooperating 100% and will continue to cooperate with all investigative authorities.”

The grand jury subpoena, which is dated July 18, suggests the FBI is investigating Saenz. Attorney Oscar Vega of McAllen, who represents Saenz, declined to comment.

Agua SUD hired Saenz through his company, CSJ Group, in October 2016. He became the district engineer.

In January 2018, when Agua SUD needed a general manager, Saenz accepted that job too.

Agua SUD paid Saenz and CSJ Group more than $3.6 million from 2018 to 2021, according to annual reports approved by the utility board.

Saenz also did work for Peñitas, Sullivan City and Elsa.


Engineer Jose E. “Eddie” Saenz addressed the Sullivan City Council during a meeting in September 2021. (Photo by Dave Hendricks / The Progress Times)


Agua SUD received a grand jury subpoena for information on Saenz, CSJ Group and more than a dozen other people and corporations in May 2021. The government followed up in July 2022 with a grand jury subpoena that focused solely on Saenz and CSJ Group.

Both subpoenas were requested by the same prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberto “Bobby” Lopez Jr., who is handling the western Hidalgo County corruption case.

Eleven people, including two La Joya school board trustees and the mayor of Peñitas, pleaded guilty in the case during the past nine months. Two more pleaded not guilty.

Information that surfaced in the case raised questions about Saenz.

The criminal information filed against Peñitas Public Works Director Andres “Andy” Morales described a conspiracy to improperly influence public officials. One of the players in the conspiracy, “Person O,” was “a high ranking administrator for Agua SUD.”

Edinburg businessman Jaime A. Rodriguez, meanwhile, admitted that he paid $55,000 to a company owned by a “high ranking” Agua SUD employee in exchange for a favorable recommendation.

In another instance, a grand jury charged Mariano Garcia, a local engineer, with paying nearly $250,000 to Morales “intending to influence and reward” the general manager of Agua SUD.

While prosecutors never identified the “high ranking” Agua SUD employee by name, the general manager referenced in the indictment against Garcia is clearly Saenz.

The second grand jury subpoena requested a slew of documents on Saenz and CSJ Group “pursuant to an investigation” being conducted by the FBI that involved a “possible federal violation.”

Information requested by the FBI included:

> “Please provide a copy of any Form 1295s, Conflicts Disclosure Statement, and/or Conflict of Interest Questionnaire filed by Jose E. Saenz, Cass Lee Investments, CSJ Group with Agua SUD.”

> “Please provide an accounting of any federal funds, if any, that were utilized in connection with the Palmview Sewer Project referenced in invoices submitted by CSJ group to Agua SUD from April 2017 through December 2019; the US 83 Relief Route referenced in Work Authorizations 1 and 3 to the CSJ Contract; and the Western Road Booster Station referenced in Work Authorization 4.”

> “Please provide any records relating to any communications between Agua SUD employees or Board Members and CSJ Group and/or Jose E. Saenz related to any purported duplicative work or double payments for services described in Exhibit B to the CSJ Contract and the purported work described in Work Authorization 2 or Supplemental Agreement 2 to the CSJ Contract.”

Asked about the subpoena, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas declined to comment.

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