FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018
Public Affairs Officer
Former Webb County Commissioner Convicted
HOUSTON - A former Webb County Commissioner and a former
city councilman have entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit federal
program bribery, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Braley announced today along
with FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs.
Former Webb County Commissioner Jaime Alberto Canales,
51, and John "Johnny" Amaya, 70, owner of JAUC Services Inc. and a
former Laredo City Councilman, pleaded guilty in Houston federal court today.
Both reside in Laredo.
Canales admitted at least in or about January 2015
through in or about January 2017, an individual gave and agreed to give things
of value in order to influence and reward him for his official acts as a Webb
County commissioner and Laredo Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
representative. Canales accepted these things of value, intending to be
influenced and rewarded for his official assistance. These things of value,
which included checks disguised as campaign contributions and personal loans,
use of a co-conspirator Padre Island condominium and meals and entertainment,
were provided in connection with business and transactions of Webb County and
the Laredo MPO well in excess of $5,000.
Amaya owned and controlled JAUC Service Inc. A
co-conspirator employed Amaya as a consultant for Corporation A, as listed in
the indictment, from in or about January 2011 through in or about April 2017.
In this role, Amaya met and spoke with various Webb County and City of Laredo
officials to direct them to take actions that benefitted the co-conspirator and
corporation. Amaya maintained close contact with officials who could help the
conspirator and corporation by setting up meetings and passing messages to and
from the conspirator. Amaya admitted he
acted as a middleman between the conspirator and public officials. At the
conspirator direction, Amaya provided cash payments, personal checks disguised
as campaign contributions and meals and entertainment to these officials,
All of the payments were reimbursed with the
corporation's corporate funds, either directly or indirectly. At the
conspirator direction, Amaya also supported specific candidates in the November
2016 election cycle by providing rental cars, drivers and gas cards for those
rental vehicles to transport voters to the polls, all for which the corporation
U.S. District Judge Sim Lake accepted the pleas today and
has set sentencing for Feb. 14, 2019. At that time, Canales and Amaya face up
to five years in federal prison. They were permitted to remain on bond pending
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S.
Attorneys Carolyn Ferko and John Pearson are prosecuting the case.