Attorneydiction.com, – A man accused in the La Joya corruption scandal, now able to change attorneys a few weeks before trial, delays the case indefinitely.
Ramiro Alaniz, 39, of La Joya is accused of working with former mayor José A. “Fito” Salinas and his daughter, Frances A. Salinas, to extract money from the La Joya Economic Development Corp project.
Attorney Gregorio R. López, who represents Alaniz, filed a motion to resign on March 9. The jury selection is temporarily scheduled for May 4.
“I’m concerned that this case goes to trial in May and is an old case – actually, it’s one of the oldest active cases in court filing, and I want to give it a try,” said US District Judge Randy Crane, who heard the hearing on the motion on Monday morning. So I hesitate to let anyone back up here at 11 o’clock.
The motion to resign, apparently the result of a discussion between Alaniz and López over money.
Alaniz paid Lopez $ 2,500 in November 2019. With the trial scheduled to begin in May, they had a follow-up conversation about the costs.
“I told Mr. Alaniz that if he wanted to go to trial, and he showed me that yes, he had told him that it was a multi-defendant case,” Lopez said. “And what kind of time commitment is needed.”
Along with Alaniz, the jury indicted Fito Salinas, Frances Salinas and Sylvia Garces Valdez, a former public relations consultant for the city of La Joya.
Alaniz works for Frances Salinas at the La Joya Housing Authority, according to the indictment. Frances Salinas also appointed Alaniz a general contractor on a project funded by La Joya EDC.
They worked together to solicit bribes from subcontractors, according to the indictment. In an attempt to conceal the bribe, Alaniz asked the subcontractors to raise their bills.
The four defendants have pleaded not guilty.
“From what people have told me, I expect at least one, maybe two, to defend this case, leaving only two,” Crane said, then added, “Leaving Mr. Alaniz and the others, the former mayor, I thought , to go to court. “
Assistant US Attorney Sarina S. DiPiazza explained that she anticipates a trial that will soon take about two weeks.
The two-week trial soon became an important time commitment for López, who represented Alaniz. After discussing the costs, López filed a motion to resign.
“And I think what you need to hear now, judge, is whether you qualify immediately to become a public defender or attorney at the government’s expense or not,” Lopez said.
Alaniz explained that he is currently unemployed and is trying to support his elderly parents.
“They are disabled,” said Alaniz, “and I live with them here in their house.”
The documents delivered to the court show that Alaniz collected the unemployed and owned a piece of land in La Joya, where he is building a house. Alaniz is required to pay child support and also to make the truck payments.
“He’s probably having cash flow problems because he has multiple payments,” Crane said. “But he has significant assets.”
Crane suggests that Alaniz sell the truck and consider borrowing money from family members to pay for his attorney.
“Mr. Alaniz, again, if he doesn’t qualify for a designated attorney, he will have to hire another attorney,” Crane said.
Alaniz explained that he immediately tried to collect the money. Crane scheduled a follow-up hearing for April 5.
“I want you to try harder. You seem to have made no effort, no sincere effort, recently, “Crane said.” So look what.