Prosecutors on Thursday dropped a federal bribery charge against a public relations consultant after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in state court.
The South Texas District Attorney’s Office dropped a bribery charge against Sylvia Garces Valdez, 40, of La Joya after pleading guilty to undue influence, a Class A misdemeanor, in state court.
“She can’t wait to put this behind her,” said attorney Carlos A. Garcia of Mission, who represented Garces Valdez in both cases. “And become again the mother and educator she always was.”
Garces Valdez – a local teacher – befriended Frances Salinas, the daughter of the mayor of La Joya, Jose A. “Fito” Salinas.
The mayor appointed Garces Valdez to the board of directors of La Joya Housing Authority. She also became a public relations consultant for the city.
La Joya paid Garces Valdez a retainer of $ 12,000 in June 2018, when Fito Salinas signed the PR contract. Garces Valdez cashed the check and shared the money with Frances Salinas.
The FBI arrested Garces Valdez in August 2019. The charge against her, corruption, carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Garces Valdez, however, had cooperated with the government since before his arrest.
“Our negotiations were always aimed at trying to get a resolution before a felony conviction,” Garcia said. “And that was the most suitable landing point for Sylvia in this case.”
Garces Valdez pleaded guilty to undue influence on Thursday.
Jaime J. Palacios, Hidalgo County Court Judge placed Garces Valdez under community surveillance for two years and fined him $ 4,000. Garces Valdez must also pay $ 22,000 in compensation.
After pleading guilty, a federal prosecutor filed a motion to dismiss the charge of corruption.