Saturday, October 31, 2020

Former Texas Police Chief Indicted for Bribery

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A former Texas police chief was arrested Friday for allegedly accepting several bribes in exchange for steering millions of dollars in government contracts for certain vendors.

Timothy Ray Vasquez, 49, made his initial appearance in federal court Friday afternoon. Prosecutors disclosed after the hearing that a federal grand jury indicted the former San Angelo police chief two days earlier with one count of receipt of a bribe by an agent of an organization receiving federal funds and three counts of honest services mail fraud. Vasquez faces up to 70 years in federal prison if convicted.

Matthew J. DeSarno, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Office, said Vasquez manipulated a government procurement process to personally profit for several years.

“This abuse of power affected a system that is supposed to be fair and unbiased,” DeSarno said in a written statement. “Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top investigative priorities.”

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The indictment alleges Vasquez used his official position to help a radio system vendor win two contracts worth over $11 million.

“In return, the vendor and its affiliates allegedly funneled him and his band, ‘Funky Munky,’ more than $130,000,” prosecutors said in a written statement, “Per the indictment, in February 2007, the City of San Angelo solicited bids for a new radio system for first responders, including the police department. Three vendors submitted bids. Mr. Vasquez allegedly asked one of the vendors for a vacation trip, but was rebuffed.”

Prosecutors claim that in April 2007, Vasquez recommended the city award the $5.6 million contract to another vendor that allegedly cut a $10,000 check to his band three months later that was deposited into his personal checking account.

“For the next eight years, Mr. Vasquez received yearly payments of approximately $8,000 from Vendor 1 and its affiliates, Juniper Valley and Trixie & Fini, either made out to Mr. Vasquez or his band,” prosecutors said. “By 2015, Mr. Vasquez and Funky Money had collected more than $84,000, including $38,200 the defendant deposited directly into his personal bank account and $29,800 he withdrew in cash.”

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When the radios were phased out seven years later, Vasquez allegedly urged the city manager to use to same vendor for new equipment and “discussed an exemption from the competitive bidding process” to help the vendor win the contract. The alleged intervention resulted in a new $5.7 million contract being awarded in June 2015.

Prosecutors claim the vendor wrote Vasquez a $50,000 check six months later made out to his band, which he allegedly deposited into his personal checking account.

“In total, Mr. Vasquez and Funky Munky received at least $134,000 from Vendor 1 and its affiliates, including at least $88,200 he deposited into his personal bank account and $29,800 he withdrew in cash,” prosecutors said. “Funky Munky’s typical fee to play at an event runs from $1,000 – $3,000.”

San Angelo police said Friday their involvement in the case “was very limited” but that the department “fully cooperated” with Texas Rangers and the FBI during their investigations.

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