The FBI have arrested five of the six top officials of the town of Crystal City, Texas, accusing them of taking bribes and allowing an illegal gambling operation to run in the town of 7,500 people.
According to the indictment, those in the town leadership who were charged “used their official positions to enrich themselves by soliciting and accepting payments and other things of value” from [alleged gambling operator, Ngoc Tri Nguyen] and others. The document accuses the officials of voting to award contracts in exchange for bribes, extorting payments from contractors, turning a blind eye to Nguyen’s illegal gaming business while taking action to shut down would-be competitors, and agreeing to reduce Nguyen’s taxes in exchange for him waiving debts, among other dealings.
Mayor Ricardo Lopez, the indictment alleges, instructed city inspectors to “make it easy” while looking at Nguyen’s property. Authorities said he also made extra effort to shut down other operators of “8-liner” gaming rooms, which are nominally illegal in Texas but flourish informally in the southern part of the state. In exchange, he allegedly accepted $6,000 from Nguyen to buy a car.
(Image: Photo of beautiful, bustling Crystal City Billy Hathorn/Wikipedia)