Former Weslaco city commissioner gets more than 2 years for briberydfwnewsa | November 30, 2023 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News
A former Weslaco city commissioner has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for a bribery conspiracy involving a water treatment plant contract that involved tens of millions of dollars.
In a news release, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas said 57-year-old Gerardo Taffola was sentenced to two years and five months in federal prison.
Tafolla, along with former Weslaco city commissioner John F. Cuellar, took bribes from Arturo Cuellar Jr. and Ricardo Quintanilla and others in exchange for taking official action that was favorable to engineering companies that sought large contracts with the city, the news release said.
“From approximately March 2008 through December 2015, one of the participants in the scheme received approximately $4.1 million from two engineering companies and shared nearly $1.4 million with Arturo Cuellar, a former Hidalgo County commissioner,” the news release stated.
Federal prosecutors say Arturo Cuellar then used a company in his control to pay $405,000 in bribes to his cousin, John Cuellar. Those were disguised as legitimate legal expenses.
“In exchange for these payments, John Cuellar took several official actions to benefit the companies, including helping to award contracts worth approximately $38.5 million to rehabilitate Weslaco’s water treatment facilities,” the release stated.
That document said that Quintanilla received approximately $85,000 during the scheme, which was used to pay Taffola cash bribes for official actions that benefited the companies receiving the water treatment plant contracts.
A jury previously convicted Cellar, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison. A jury also convicted Quintanilla, who was sentenced to 16 years and eight months in prison.
John Cuellar received three years in prison. He previously pleaded guilty.
Tafolla pleaded guilty to federal program bribery in 2019.
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