By Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) — Almost every top official in a remote South Texas city was arrested Thursday under a detailed federal indictment that accuses them of taking bribes from contractors and sending city workers to help an illegal gambling operator nicknamed “Mr. T.”
Crystal City’s mayor, city manager, mayor pro tempore, one of three current councilmen and a former councilman were all arrested under an indictment obtained by the U.S. attorney’s office in San Antonio, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney said.
A second councilman is already charged in a separate case with smuggling Mexican immigrants. That leaves just one councilman not facing federal charges in Crystal City, a town of about 7,100 people about 50 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Once billed as the “Spinach Capital of the World,” Crystal City’s logo features a cartoon of Popeye, and a spinach festival with a cook-off and a beauty pageant draws tens of thousands of people each year. But in recent months, the town has been in the news for turmoil at City Hall and allegations of misuse of public money.
“What happened is nothing to celebrate. It’s something sad that happened to us,” said the remaining councilman, Joel Barajas, on Thursday. “By all means, we need to move forward.”
The indictment accuses the town’s leadership of using their positions “to enrich themselves by soliciting and accepting payments and other things of value.” Also charged was Ngoc Tri Nguyen, alleged to be an operator of illegal gambling…