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Judge sends former La Joya school board president to jail for using cocaine while awaiting sentencing for extortion

A judge sent former La Joya school board President Oscar “Coach” Salinas to jail Wednesday after he confessed to using cocaine.

Oscar “Coach” Salinas, 53, of Sullivan City pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge last year. He posted bond — $30,000 with no cash deposit required — and remained free while he awaited sentencing.

In March, however, Salinas failed a drug test and confessed to using cocaine for the past four months, which violated his conditions of release.

“I’m glad that you were honest about it,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia S. Medrano said Wednesday morning, when Salinas appeared in court. “But because you continuously failed to follow those conditions, I’m going to order you detained.”

Medrano ordered Salinas jailed until sentencing, which is scheduled for May.

“In speaking to Mr. Salinas, he makes no excuses for his actions,” said attorney Christopher Sully of McAllen, who represents Salinas. “He knows it’s wrong.”

Former La Joya school board President Oscar “Coach” Salinas. (Photo courtesy of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.)

Sully said Salinas had been struggling with addiction since March 2022, when he struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to extortion.

The case against Salinas involved a series of text messages he sent to Jacinto Garza, the CEO of Mercedes-based L&G Consulting Engineers, in October 2020.

L&G paid $8,000 per month to Salinas for “Professional Services associated with sales,” according to a copy of the contract, which became public as part of a civil lawsuit. Salinas demanded that L&G “renegotiate” his contract.

In the same conversation, Salinas threatened to cancel a contract between the La Joya Independent School District and Ruth Villarreal Insurance because Ruth’s husband, Everardo “Ever” Villarreal, wasn’t aligned with him politically.

“We WILL BE FIRE HIS WIFE ON SWEARING IN DAY!” Salinas wrote in a text message. “GUARANTEED!”

L&G refused to renegotiate his contract. La Joya ISD terminated the contract with Ruth Villarreal Insurance.

Salinas agreed to plead guilty to extortion, a federal felony.

When he posted bond, Salinas agreed not to drink alcohol and “not to use or unlawfully possess a narcotic drug or other controlled substances.”

“He started out this case with a drug problem,” Sully said.

Salinas completed an inpatient drug treatment program in 2022, Sully said, and remained clean for about six months before he relapsed.

On March 13, 2023, the U.S. Probation Office asked Salinas to take a drug test. When he took the test, Salinas denied using drugs.

The next day, however, during a phone call with the Probation Office, he confessed to using cocaine in December 2022, January 2023 and February 2023.

Salinas said he used cocaine to stay awake and keep up with his work schedule, according to Medrano, the magistrate judge, who summarized information provided by the Probation Office during the hearing on Monday.

Medrano asked if Salinas would still test positive for cocaine.

“If he’s tested today, your honor, I think it’ll still come up positive,” Sully said. “He has used in the recent past, your honor.”

Salinas agreed — and said he used cocaine about eight days ago.

“I don’t smoke anything else with the cocaine,” Salinas said.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 18. Salinas faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.

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