Mission attorney arrested on theft charges

A Mission-based attorney surrendered himself to authorities in Rio Grande City on Tuesday morning on allegations that he defrauded clients.

Florencio Lopez is facing four counts of theft, three of which are state jail felonies, with the fourth count being a misdemeanor charge, according to Brenda Lee, law enforcement liaison for the Starr County Attorney’s Office.

His arrest stems from an investigation into a notary public, Juana Maria Rodriguez, who was arrested in January for allegedly providing fraudulent immigration services, including notary services, despite her notary license expiring in August 2017, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

Rodriguez was arrested again on Tuesday as she also turned herself in to authorities. She was charged with three counts of theft, composed of two state jail felonies and one misdemeanor.

The Starr County Special Crimes Unit began investigating Rodriguez in late 2018.

After her arrest in January, the SCU also executed a search warrant at Mexus Law Firm, Rodriguez’s law firm.

It’s unclear what evidence was recovered at the scene, but Lee said the two worked together.

“All of the allegations suggest that Lopez and Rodriguez worked together to defraud people by collecting fees for legal services that were not provided,” Lee stated.

Lopez was released from jail Tuesday afternoon on a $1,500 personal recognizance bond for each count set by Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Eloy Zarate Jr., according to Mjr. Carlos Delgado, spokesperson for the Starr County Sheriff’s Office.

For Rodriguez, Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace J.M. “Chuy” Alvarez set a $5,000 personal recognizance bond for each count.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that J.M. “Chuy” Alvarez arraigned Juana Maria Rodriguez.