This week, federal prosecutors announced two new developments in their bribery investigations surrounding Weslaco’s commissioners and economic development board.
Over the past week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas announced one man was charged and another admitted guilt.
David Fox, a former Weslaco city commissioner, pled guilty last week to perjury. Fox was also a board member for the Weslaco Economic Development Corporation. After denying the charge in front of a grand jury in 2018, Fox admitted he accepted $2,000 in bribes intended to influence his votes favorably toward a proposed water treatment facility.
The Justice Department also announced the arrest of McAllen resident Sunil Wadwhani on charges of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud. In 2013, Wadwhani tried to procure a favorable land development agreement from the Weslaco Economic Development Corporation to build a Motel 6; this included a $300,000 incentive agreement. Wadwhani conspired with others to funnel money to three people, including a “Commissioner A,” who was a city commissioner and member of the EDC board, in return for a favorable vote. As a result, the EDC board awarded Wadwhani the incentive through two separate payments of $150,000. He then used money from the incentives to pay off the commissioner and another co-conspirator.
To date, Fox is the third former Weslaco city commissioner to plead guilty, following Gerardo “Jerry” Tafolla and John F. Cuellar.
In both cases, the victim is the public, who had the use of their tax dollars for sale and saw a significant rise in their water rates.
Sentencing for Fox is scheduled for January 9, 2020. Fox faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.