La Joya administrator under federal investigation, announces retirement

La Joya City Administrator Mike Alaniz submitted a notice of retirement last week, believed to be prompted by a federal investigation.

As first reported by The Progress Times, Alaniz is the focus of a federal investigation; though his attorney, Rick Salinas, said Friday they’re still figuring out what investigators are looking into.

“I think the government is trying to focus on municipalities in general, across the county that may be involved in self-dealing,” Salinas said.

When asked if self-dealing is what Alaniz is suspected of, Salinas said, “We’re trying to sort out whether or not anything like that actually took place.”

Michelle Lee, a spokesperson for the FBI, said they could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.Alaniz submitted his retirement letter dated May 31, which the city council approved Thursday. His resignation is effective June 30.

The council also approved to advertise for the position, which will likely be posted Monday.

La Joya Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas, who’s of no relation to Rick Salinas, said Alaniz had not provided much information about the nature of the investigation but said he believed federal investigators were looking into Alaniz in connection to property that the La Joya Economic Development Corporation was looking to purchase for the city’s lift station and to expand a city street.

The Progress Times reported that Alaniz participated in a 2012 tax auction on the EDC’s behalf, purchasing five properties. Those properties, however, ended up under the names of Alaniz and his sister.

Of his resignation from the city, Salinas, Alaniz’s attorney, said, “We live in perilous times and if you’re going to work for a municipal entity or any form of government, I think that — from a very objective point of view — I think you just have to walk a straight line.”

“You may do something that you think is very benign, and it might not always be that way.”