The FBI reportedly arrested nearly every top official of a town in Texas. Five officials of Crystal City, Texas, were arrested on Feb. 5 on charges related to bribery and illegal gambling.
After the raid, only one city council member is not facing criminal charges, reports The Washington Post.
The most recent allegations of political corruption in the small town of around 7,100 residents began in 2013 when William James Jonas, a former lobbyist, became Crystal City’s city attorney despite not having experience, reports New York Daily News.
Jonas was then promoted to city manager, and reportedly received a $216,000 salary annually, more than half of the general budget of Crystal City.
Crystal City residents faced rising taxes and utility prices during Jonas’ tenure, and the town is now facing bankruptcy, reports The Washington Post.
The city officials arrested on Feb. 5 are all suspected of accepting bribes from contractors seeking the city’s business, and using city employees to help the operator of an illegal gambling organization.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in San Antonio reportedly obtained an indictment for the city’s mayor, mayor pro tem, city manager, a city council member and a former council member, reports The Associated Press.
Joel Barajas, the only remaining city council member not facing criminal charges, said, “What happened is nothing to celebrate. It’s something sad that happened to us. By all means, we need to move forward,” in an interview.
Residents of Crystal City expressed approval at the arrests of their town’s officials, hoping to move forward in ridding the town of corruption.
“Crystal City is a good town. If you do wrong, you have to face your consequences. We’ve got laws for everything and we’ve got to abide by what the law says,” Crystal City resident Maria Sanchez Rivera told AP.
U.S. Attorney for San Antonio Richard Durbin Jr. said that he hopes the arrests of officials can begin to rebuild Crystal City’s trust in local government.
“What we can do is that first step. In the end, it falls back on the citizens to make the next decision on who they put in those offices, because that’s how the system works,” said Durbin.