New details emerge in arrest of former La Joya housing official

The arrest of a former interim executive director of the La Joya Housing Authority earlier this week is tied to the arrest of another housing authority official earlier this year, according to new details that emerged Thursday.

Frances A. Salinas, 52, was arrested Monday in San Antonio on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

In a news release issued Thursday afternoon, the federal government revealed that the criminal complaint against her alleges that from June 2018 to approximately November 2018, Salinas acted as an intermediary between Sylvia Garces Valdez and a local elected official so that Garces Valdez could secure a public relations contract with the city.

Garces Valdez, 38, was arrested in August for allegedly offering cash to “Person A” intending to influence and reward “Person B.” She pleaded not guilty.

While Salinas has been identified as Person A, Person B was only identified as an elected official for the city of La Joya in the indictment.

At the time of her arrest, Garces Valdez was no longer in her public relations role with the city but was the vice chair of the La Joya Housing Authority.

The indictment also describes text messages between Garces Valdez and Salinas in which Salinas “claimed to have a direct connection with a La Joya official,” according to the news release.

That La Joya official “would allegedly ensure the contract’s approval and any necessary amendments.”

It’s alleged that Salinas also set the amount that Garces Valdez would be paid under the contract and that Garces Valdez would have to pay Salinas after the contract was approved.

The two would also allegedly email each other about the contract and Salinas allegedly directed Garces Valdez to send other emails about the contract but it is unclear to whom those additional emails were sent.

Salinas is scheduled to make her initial appearance in federal court Friday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Chestney in San Antonio.

Salinas faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, if convicted.

If Garces Valdez is convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.