The Jim Wells County grand jury was briefed Friday morning on several district court cases that included a case of bribery against an Alice Councilwoman.
Councilwoman Elida Garza is a suspect in a bribery case from April 2017; before she was an elected official. At the time of the alleged incident, Garza was campaigning for a place on the Alice City Council.
According to sources, witnesses observed Garza receive a check from an Alice businessman who, when handing Garza the check, stated this is to fire the city manager.
“The police department has investigated the allegation. At this time, no one can provide proof that's what the money was for,” said JWC District Attorney Carlos Garcia. “There's no evidence to support that the money was intended (or used) for that purpose.”
On Garza's 2017 campaign finance report, there is a $200 contribution from the local businessman in the month of April.
Garcia couldn't go into details of the alleged bribery because it's still an open investigation.
“She wasn't a public servant at the time regardless is she was a candidate, at the time, she was still a private citizen,” Garcia stated. “The grand jury will decide if there's enough evidence to move forward.”
According to the US Department of Justice, 2041. Bribery Of Public Officials - Section 201 of Title 18 is entitled "Bribery of public officials and witnesses,":
The statute comprises two distinct offenses, however, and in common parlance only the first of these is true "bribery."
The first offense, codified in section 201(b), prohibits the giving or accepting of anything of value to or by a public official, if the thing is given "with intent to influence" an official act, or if it is received by the official "in return for being influenced."
The second offense, codified in section 201(c), concerns what are commonly known as "gratuities," although that word does not appear anywhere in the statute. Section 201(c) prohibits that same public official from accepting the same thing of value, if he does so "for or because of" any official act, and prohibits anyone from giving any such thing to him for such a reason.
“It doesn't fit the elements of the bribery statue because she was not an elected official at the time this allegedly occurred,” Garcia stated.
Garza won the May 6 election for Alice City Council Place 2.
“I knew about the allegation... I didn't know it was going before the grand jury,” she said. “It's crazy. All I'm going to say is 'it's crazy.'”
Garza was sworn into the Alice City Council since May 11. Garza and Councilwoman Yolanda Sosa Moran are at the center of a recall effort led by Alice residents Cindy Loera and Randal Dickens. The residents recently submitted to city hall recall petitions with signatures for the two recently-elected council members.
As of Friday at approximately 5:30 p.m, Garza had not been charged or arrested for the alleged bribery.