South Texas Attorney Charged with Making False Statement Related to Bribery Case

A South Texas woman was taken into custody Monday, following an indictment alleging she made a false statement to authorities in a bribery investigation involving alien detainee roster lists.

This announced was made by U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick, Southern District of Texas. This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

On Feb. 18, 2020, a federal grand jury returned an indictment on Cynthia Alanis, 27, from Weslaco, Texas. She as arrested Feb. 24, 2020, without incident.

The charge stems from a bribery investigation involving Benito Barrientes, 42, from Lyford; Exy Adelaida Gomez, 42, from Los Fresnos; and Damian Ortiz, 30, and her brother and McAllen attorney Roel Alanis, 39, both from Weslaco. They were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery in relation to obtaining alien detainee roster lists.

According to court documents, the indictment against Alanis alleges she falsely stated she did not receive nor know of any alien detainee roster lists given to the Alanis law firm. However, the charges allege she had previously received detainee roster lists and knew of such lists given to the law firm.

Barrientes and Ortiz were employed at the Willacy County Regional Detention Center as a classification clerk and a senior program director, respectively. Gomez was a corrections officer at the El Valle Detention Center. Both facilities are in Raymondville, Texas.

The indictment also alleges Barrientes, Ortiz and Gomez obtained alien detainee roster lists from the El Valle Detention Center and the Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos while employed in their respective capacities.

The lists were then allegedly provided to Roel Alanis, an attorney with a practice in in the Rio Grande Valley. Roel Alanis then allegedly paid money to the employees in return for receiving the lists which contained names, dates of birth, country of origin and A-numbers of alien detainees. The charges allege Roel Alanis would visit the illegal aliens for the purpose of hiring his law firm as their attorney in immigration proceedings. Alternatively, he would instruct his sister or others to do so, according to the charges.

If convicted, Alanis faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Barrientes and Ortiz have pleaded guilty and are set for sentencing April 29, 2020.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case. An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.


Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/02/2020


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