School Board Indicted Over Taking Bribes in McDonald’s Parking Lot

WESLACO — Allegations of “pay-for-play” corruption in Progreso school board contracts spread to Weslaco last week when an architect was accused of bribing a school board member there for a design contract.

Jesus Bustos of McAllen’s IDEA Group was arrested in January, accused of paying kickbacks to Progreso school district officials in exchange for architectural contracts for the firm, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court’s Houston Division.

A superseding indictment filed late last week accuses Bustos of similarly bribing an unnamed Weslaco school board member for IDEA’s contract to design Mario Ybarra Elementary School. The 100,000-square-foot school was completed in 2009 for a total construction cost of $9.7 million, according to the firm’s website.

The indictment says a marketing representative working for Bustos delivered money to the school board member in October 2006, December 2008 and July 2009.

That adds to allegations that Bustos arranged for money to go to the Vela family for Progreso projects during seven 2004 to 2011 deliveries, via bags and sunglass cases exchanged in places including the Weslaco McDonald’s and McAllen Academy Sports & Outdoors parking lot.

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