The saying goes that all politics are local. Whether or not this is true, it is clear that all politicians, from the U.S. congress down to the mayors of small towns, are susceptible to corruption.
With so much money riding on political decisions, the most common type of corruption is undoubtedly bribery. While taking a little extra on the side to help a few friends may seem harmless enough for small-time politicians, it contradicts the competition and meritocracy that so many Americans rely on. It can also lead to federal prison, as one Texas politician may soon discover.
The FBI this week arrested 36-year-old Kristopher Michael Montemayor on charges of bribery. Montemayor was a county commissioner for Precinct 1 of the Webb County, Texas Commissioners Court.
Montemayor was arrested following a federal grand jury indictment that charged the man with two counts of federal programs bribery. The commissioner allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for jobs and favors while working for the county. The grand jury's indictment has now been unsealed following the commissioner's arrest.
According to charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, Montemayor is alleged to have accepted a 2012 Ford truck valued at approximately $37,015 in exchange for providing jobs to the truck's owner and the truck owner's spouse.
The case against Montemayor was investigated by the FBI out of Laredo, Texas. The commissioner was eventually caught by an undercover law enforcement agent who posed as a businessman.
As alleged in court documents, Montemayor accepted around $11,000 and $2,700 in electronics from the undercover agent. In return the commissioner had "promised to take official action" to promote the undercover agent's fake business interests.
If convicted Montemayor faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the two bribery charges, which also each carry a fine of up to $250,000.
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