Breaking news story to Juan Montoya, the publisher of El Rrun Rrun. He mentions several other BISD members possibly involved either knowing or not knowing of possible bribery and pictures of several known political figures. If what Juan Montoya has written is true, this may possibly be the current end of BISD as we know it.
You can read the full story below or you can also go directly’s to El Rrun Rrun and read on there.
(As we were going to press today, we received word that U.S. Magistrate Ronald Morgan had issued another sealed order in the case of the U.S.A. vs. Sylvia P. Atkinson. We can only surmise that sine it was issued today, it may deal with her appearances at events in the Brownsville Independent School District such as the groundbreaking she attended at Hanna High School. Is there a rude awakening awaiting this BISD trustee in her federal file?)
By Juan Montoya
There is a narrative in the federal indictment issued by a jury against Brownsville Independent School District board member Dr. Sylvia Atkinson that has a lot of people worried.
It is the heading “Manners and Means of the Conspiracy” where Ass. US Attorney Jodi Young states that “though various means, defendant and others sought o use her positions as BISD official, an Rio Hondo Independent School District official and as an elected BISD trustee to obtain money from private companies and private individuals in exchange for assistance in obtaining contracts with BISD of RHISD.
Young goes on to say that Atkinson provided this assistance, in part, by causing items to be placed on the BISD agenda for consideration and action by the BISD board of trustees. He charges that she also used her official positions and influence to set up meetings for private companies with BISD and RHISD.
In exchange for using her influence in contracting decisions at BISD and RHISD, she demanded and received what were often alleged to be campaign contributions, but which in reality were bribes.
The government claims that she did not report this money as campaign donations, and she either kept all or a portion of the money for herself.
Just who were these donors and who were the candidates for public office that were the recipients of the illegal contributions?
Sources close to the case say that some BISD trustees such as the slate she was supporting to give her a majority on the board – fellow Texas Soutmost College co-worker Prisci Roca-Tipton, ex-BISD Public Information Officer Drue Brown – may have been the indirect recipients of her largess, or lack thereof.
The government claims that “at times (she) would cause funds to be distributed to finance election campaigns of other local political candidates who, through their resulting loyalty to (Atkinson) would enhance (her) power in local politics, extend her influence on the BISD board, and enhance her ability to extract bribes in exchange for contracts.
During the last BISD election campaign, Roca-Tipton listed among financial contribution for the period covering July through October 2018 at least one $1,500 donation and a $2,500 in-kind contribution for political signs from from Ron McVeigh, of Weslaco, who was pushing for a contract to manage its energy savings through his company DMI Entegral Solutions, one for $500 from doctor Suryaprakash Raguthu, and a $1,677 in political signs and another $988.40 for from AK Health Management’s Edward Bustos. Bustos also chipped in $300 in-kind on Nov. 6 for an event at Zocalo’s.
In the October 7-October 29 report, McVeigh again chipped in another $2,355 in cash as did Joe Salazar, of Salazar and Associates, an insurance salesman.
McVeigh was particularly generous to Roca-Tipton in the January report giving her $4,000 on Nov. 29 and another $8,000 Dec. 7.
Even board counsel Baltazar Salazar chipped in with $1,000 October 30 and paid $1,105 Nov. 14 for an ad in the Brownsville Herald. Would that constitute a “gift” in violation of his contract with the BISD?
If the contributions raise red flags, her expenses are also curious. On November six she made $1,666 payments to Mauricia, and Ricardo Roca and Ramiro Garcia and listed her home address – 1484 Sunshine Road – as their address. On that same day she listed making a paymen of $3,081 to May Roca at the same address.
But that’s only what appears on the campaign reports. Investigators say that not all of the contributions individuals made through Atkinson did not reach the candidates and that she might have pocketed some for herself. In some cases, some contributors may not have even appeared in the reports.
And people still remember she played an important role in the recent city mayoral elections and supported Trey Mendez, the eventual winner. Is this another example of the federal government’s allegations of enhancing her power in local politics?
We doubt that the candidates she supported had any idea of what was going on behind the scenes the whole time or approve of the alleged criminal acts with which she has been charged.
The donations by the medical and health care management individuals has raised red flags for investigators based on the suspicion that some of these health professionals may have been in the belief that a system of clinics would be installed in district’s campuses and that they would have an opportunity to do business there.
But even as these federal charges reverberate though the city, Atkinson is keeping a stiff upper lip and has posted on Facebook thanking her loyal supporters that she is ready to face these “serious” allegations and to #KeepTheFaith.
And despite the federal magistrate’s conditions on her bond that she remain apart from her to stay away from witnesses and victims.
That would almost ban her – like Erasmo Castro – from attending most events at the district campus where potential witnesses might be.
The BISD is certainly filled with witnesses starting with the other board members who might have voted on some of her agenda initiatives such as the movie contract. Someone has pointed out that the BISD is itserlf a presumptive victim.
As far as we know, she has not gotten an order order from the court to allow her to perform her trustee duties. We understand that complaints have already been filed with the FBI along those lines. This morning, she attended a groundbreaking at Hanna High School that might have been in violation of the magistrate’s bond conditions.
Will the government move to clarify this situation by moving to revoke her bond or modifying the terms of the conditions for that bond?
Atkinson entered a plea of not guilty through her attorneys. Jury selection in the case is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2020. Court documents indicated that she posted bond after she was remanded to the custody of a U.S. Marshal.