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Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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Texas Mayor Indicted, Arrested on Charges of Bribery and Fraud

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Rodrigo Lopez, the mayor of Penitas. | Image by City of Penitas

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A South Texas mayor bonded out of jail Wednesday after being arrested for allegations of bribery and fraud.

Rodrigo Lopez, the mayor of Penitas, was re-entering the United States from Mexico at the Hidalgo County port of entry when authorities took him into custody Monday.

An indictment obtained by The Dallas Express claims Lopez embezzled or fraudulently obtained property from the La Joya Independent School District (LJISD).

From March through August 2018, LJISD allegedly made purchases totaling approximately $70,010 from Lopez’s company Xizaka LLC.

The indictment also alleges that Lopez offered a bribe to an employee of LJISD in connection to those purchases.

If convicted, Lopez faces up to 10 years per charge in the two-count indictment, according to a statement by the Department of Justice.

Lopez made his initial appearance in a McAllen, Texas, court for a detention and arraignment hearing on Tuesday, according to court documents, and pleaded not guilty to both counts.

Judge Nadia Medrano set bond at $50,000, which was paid, and Lopez was released.

Lopez is scheduled to appear in court again on July 26, with jury selection set to begin on August 2.

This investigation was a joint effort between the Department of Justice, ATF, Department of Insurance, McAllen Police Department, and Customs & Border Patrol.

The indictment lists Antonio Torres as Lopez’s lawyer. The Dallas Express sought comment from Torres, but emails were not immediately returned, and phone calls could not be completed to the listed phone number.

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