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Politiquero pleads guilty in Edinburg corruption case

A politiquero who bribed members of the Edinburg City Council pleaded guilty Monday.

Miguel Angel Garza, 52, of Edinburg pleaded guilty to bribery Monday afternoon during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo.

As part of his plea, Garza admitted that he accepted money from a local businessman. Garza told the businessman he would pass the money along to members of the Edinburg City Council — and they would vote to approve contracts with the business.

“Funneling bribes damages the foundations of city governments, such as Edinburg,” U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani said in a statement. “Our office will be relentless in seeking justice against actors who threaten to crumble those foundations through their criminal acts.”

Who paid Garza remains a mystery.

The indictment against Garza identified the businessman as “Person 1” and said he “owned a business that operated in Edinburg, Texas and the surrounding area.”

Miguel Angel Garza in November 2021, when he testified in state district court. (Photo by Dave Hendricks / The Progress Times.)

From about June 1, 2019, to March 1, 2020, the businessman paid $47,235 to Garza, who said he would pass the money along to members of the City Council. The indictment against Garza referred to them as “Public Official A” and “Public Official B.”

“Public Official A and Public Official B were in positions with the City of Edinburg, Texas where each could vote on whether the City of Edinburg, Texas would award contracts and work agreements to Person 1’s business,” according to the indictment, “or end or otherwise modify any existing contract or work agreement that already existed, either in writing or otherwise, between the City of Edinburg, Texas and Person 1’s business.”

Attorney Rolando David Cantu of McAllen, who represents Garza, declined to comment.

Garza worked for politicians in Edinburg and throughout Hidalgo County.

“Really what I am, I’m really a politiquero,” Garza said during a hearing in May 2022, when a grand jury indicted him on bribery and racketeering charges. “I help campaigns. I go out there and put the signs and all that.”

Businesses also paid Garza for “consulting” services.

“During the period of time alleged in the indictment, he was — shall we say — ‘consulting’ on behalf of three businesses with ties to the city of Edinburg,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Guerra, who is prosecuting the case, said during the May 2022 hearing. “And all three of those businesses were paying him either bi-weekly or monthly. Thousands of dollars, annually.”

When the investigation started remains unclear.

In February 2020, though, FBI agents searched Garza’s house. Days after the search, the city of Edinburg received a federal grand jury subpoena.

The subpoena requested information on seven elected officials and eight city employees. It also sought all “records and transcriptions pertaining to Edinburg City Council and Economic Development Corporation meetings” from January 2019 to February 2020.

A grand jury indicted Garza on federal bribery and racketeering charges in May 2022.

Garza struck a deal with prosecutors. They agreed to drop the racketeering charge if Garza pleaded guilty to bribery.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 31. Garza faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.

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