Authorities say a Brownsville man stole $20,000 from priest

Authorities arrested a Brownsville man Sunday they accuse of swindling a local priest out of $20,000.

Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said in a Facebook post that his office’s Special Investigations Unit arrested 31-year-old Hector Alberto Salinas Sunday at the Veteran’s International Bridge.

“According to an arrest affidavit, the victim was interested in purchasing an undeveloped property for $20,000 through Salinas, who claimed to be a licensed contractor,” Saenz said in the posting.

This allegedly occurred in January 2017 when the victim, who was not identified, gave Salinas $5,000 in cash and a $15,000 cashier’s check to finalize the transaction.

“The priest was hoping to use Salinas’ services to subsequently build a home on the property for his parents to visit him,” Saenz said.

However, Salinas allegedly never delivered the transfer of the property and repeatedly told the victim he was having trouble finding the property owner.

“In 2018, Salinas allegedly admitted that he used the money to fund other projects he was working on before telling the priest via text message to ‘stop harassing him’ and ‘take him to court’ because he couldn’t pay back the money,” Saenz said.

Salinas is charged with felony theft.

“It is very sad and unfortunate that a clergy member was swindled, but important to note that he believed Salinas because he was a member of his parish and thought he was trustworthy,” Saenz said. “If you may be a victim, please contact law enforcement or our office.”