FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee confirmed Monday morning the arrest of the La Joya Housing Authority’s vice chairwoman.
Lee said she couldn’t go into details about the arrest of Sylvia Garces Valdez, but added the La Joya woman would make her initial appearance in federal court Monday morning before a federal magistrate.
The arrest of the 38-year-old woman comes only days after FBI agents executed a search warrant at city offices.
On Friday, agents were seen removing boxes from city administrative offices in connection with an investigation that was not revealed.
Part of city hall was shut down due to the search, disrupting the city’s main phone lines. However, City Manager Jacqueline Bazan assured the police department was unaffected.
City staff also had to leave their offices and move to the police department while the search was ongoing. Bazan said the agents gave no indication they would be interviewing the staff.
Robert Jackson, the former city attorney for La Joya who resigned in 2017, speculated that the agents were investigating misuse of public funds for personal use.
Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas said he didn’t want to speculate on what the agents were looking into but said he was aware that the FBI had spoken to their former city administrator, Mike Alaniz.
Alaniz retired from the city at the end of June but his attorney, Rick Salinas, confirmed he was the focus of a federal investigation.
Salinas, the La Joya mayor, said he was told he had to sign off on the inventory that the agents were going to remove from city hall.
“The thing about it is, how in the heck do I know what they’re taking?” he said. “I don’t keep inventory.”
“We don’t know what’s happening inside the building,” he added, referring to the agents’ search. “How can I sign something if I don’t know what they’re putting in the boxes.”
Of the situation, the mayor said he’d wait it out.
“Politics is politics and I’ll handle it that way,” he said.