August 9, 2018 500 AM
MIDLAND, PRESIDIO COUNTY – Former Presidio County Precinct 3 Commissioner Lorenzo Padilla Hernandez in Midland federal court on Friday admitted to defrauding the citizens of Presidio County by taking bribes while in office in return for his support and vote on a county contract, said United States Attorney John F. Bash and FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the El Paso Division in a news release.
Appearing before United States District Judge David Counts, Hernandez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and deprivation of honest services. By pleading guilty, Hernandez admitted that from August 2015 to June 2017, he conspired to collect approximately $19,800 in bribes from a federal agent acting in an undercover capacity. In exchange for the money, Hernandez agreed to support and vote on May, 9, 2017, for a Presidio County document management services contract to be awarded to a specific company.
Hernandez faces up to 20 years in federal prison. He remains on bond pending sentencing scheduled for November 19, 2018, in Pecos federal court.
Hernandez’s co-defendant, 66-year-old Carlos Eduardo Nieto, former Special Projects Coordinator for the City of Presidio and former Presidio Independent School District trustee, is charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of mail fraud and the deprivation of honest services.
Jury selection and trial is scheduled for October 16, 2018, in Pecos before Judge Counts.
The indictment in this case alleges that Nieto also solicited and received $8,300 in bribes for using his position and influence to secure that same contract for that specific company.
Upon conviction, Nieto faces up to 20 years in federal prison. An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. Nieto is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The FBI, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division, investigated this case.
Assistant United States Attorneys William F. Lewis and Monty Kimball are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.