Former Hidalgo city employee facing new bribery charge

EDINBURG — A former code enforcement officer with the city of Hidalgo entered a not guilty plea Monday morning to two new charges of bribery and abuse of official capacity.

A Hidalgo County grand jury indicted Francisco Neftali Vasquez Martinez, 61, on the charges Aug. 1.

This latest indictment is the fourth in a series levied against the man since his arrest last July.

The charging document accuses Martinez of accepting a bribe on May 1, 2018, from Jose Jimenez to ensure that the city of Hidalgo would issue a building permit.

On May 30, Martinez was also indicted on a charge or bribery over allegations he accepted a bribe on May 7, 2018, from Irma Balderas for the consideration or recommendation for the issuance of a building permit.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Martinez also stands accused of accepting a bribe on Oct. 30, 2017, from Augusto Jaime Garcia in exchange for ensuring property owned by the city of Hidalgo was awarded to Garcia at auction, according to a Dec. 13, 2018, indictment.

The first indictment against Martinez accuses the man of accepting a bribe from Balderas for a building permit on May 7, 2018.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the Hidalgo Police Department accuses Martinez of telling the owners of Anabel Ropa Usada, a used clothing store, that he would allow them to move into a building lacking a sprinkler system for $9,000.

That document indicates he was in his city uniform and driving a city vehicle.

The owners paid up in cash and four days later he “agreed to give them a city permit or paper that the sprinkler system was not required,” according to the affidavit.

After Martinez called asking for an additional $3,500 in early June, one of the owners called police, according to the affidavit.

Martinez is free on $40,000 in bonds.