In Pecos today, a federal judge sentenced two former Presidio County officials–67-year-old Carlos Eduardo Nieto and 57-year-old Lorenzo Padilla Hernandez–to 30 months and 24 months imprisonment, respectively, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash and FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie, Jr., El Paso Division.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge David Counts ordered each defendant to pay a $10,000 fine and be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing their prison terms. Judge Counts also ordered that Hernandez forfeit to the government $19,800; Nieto, $8,300. Judge Counts allowed both defendants to remain on bond pending notification from the U.S. Bureau of Prison regarding the date and location to report to in order to begin serving their prison terms.
On October 23, 2018, Nieto, former Special Projects Coordinator for the City of Presidio and former Presidio Independent School District trustee, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and deprivation of honest services. By pleading guilty, Nieto admitted that he and Hernandez, former Presidio County Precinct 3 Commissioner, conspired since May 10, 2016, to defraud Presidio County and its citizens of money by corruptly ensuring, through their positions and influence, that a particular company would be awarded a County contract for a document management system. Hernandez and Nieto solicited and received $19,800 and $8,300, respectively, for their efforts. On May 9, 2017, Hernandez voted to award the contract to that particular company. On August 3, 2018, Hernandez pleaded guilty to the same charge.
“This office is serious about combatting public corruption. If you violate the public trust for personal gain, you can expect to go to prison,” stated U.S. Attorney Bash.
“The sentencing of these two defendants illustrates El Paso FBI’s firm commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to address public corruption and hold corrupt officials in Presidio County and other jurisdictions accountable,” stated El Paso FBI SAC Buie. “The FBI encourages the public to continue to support our active and ongoing efforts to deter and prevent corruption in West Texas by reporting such activity to the FBI’s Public Corruption Hotline, 1-800-CALL-FBI.”
The FBI, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division, investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Monty Kimball and William F. Lewis prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.
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