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McALLEN, Texas - A 51-year-old Rio Grande City resident and employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been charged with bribery of public officials and witnesses, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. 

Roberto Rodriguez, 51, turned himself in to authorities today. He is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker at 9 a.m. Also taken into custody and appearing today are Jose Sandoval, 70, and Daniel Diaz, 67, both USDA contractors from Rio Grande City.

A federal grand jury returned the three-count indictment Aug. 22.

Rodriguez was a USDA rural development loan specialist, according to the charges. From on or about January 2021 and continuing through Aug. 22, Rodriguez accepted bribe payments from Sandoval and Diaz. In return, Rodriguez allegedly referred applicants of the USDA 504 Single Family Housing Repair Grant and Loan program to the contractors.   

Rodriguez did knowingly, corruptly and in violation of his official duty, accept payments from Sandoval and Diaz, according to the allegations. The contractors allegedly paid the bribes with the intent to influence official acts after the federally-funded repairs were completed.  

If convicted, all face up to 15 years in federal prison as well as a possible $250,000 maximum fine. The indictment also includes a notice of restitution of all funds related to the charges.

The FBI conducted the investigation along with Texas Office of the Attorney General, USDA - Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Housing and Urban Development – OIG with the assistance of Drug Enforcement Administration, Texas Department of Public Safety – Texas Rangers and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Cook Profit is prosecuting the case.   

The investigation is part of the Border Corruption Task Force (BCTF) and Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces. The BCTF is comprised of multiple state and federal agencies that serve to disrupt and dismantle corrupt domestic public officials that operate along the southwest border. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage