FORMER U.S.D.A. FARM SERVICE AGENCY LOAN OFFICER IN UVALDE SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON IN FARM LOAN FRAUD CASE
Barbara Serna Salinas, a 43-year-old former loan officer for the United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Uvalde, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for a farm loan
fraud scheme, announced United States Attorney John Bash.
During sentencing yesterday in Del Rio, U.S. District Judge Alia Moses also ordered Serna to pay $166,744.20
in restitution to the USDA and be placed on supervised release for a period of five years after completing her
On June 28, 2018, Serna pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement on a loan application. By
pleading guilty, Serna admitted she issued multiple fraudulent FSA loans from May 2011 through June 2016.
Furthermore, in exchange for approving the loans, Serna accepted cash or other forms of payment from her codefendants,
Ruben James Valadez, age 44 of Uvalde, and Eric Torres Neira, age 44 of San Antonio. According
to court documents, a review of USDA loans approved by Serna after 2011 identified several to Neira and
Valadez, which totaled more than $150,000.
On December 4, 2018, Judge Moses sentenced Neira to five months imprisonment and ordered him to pay
restitution to the USDA, joint and severally with Serna, in the amount of $142,961.94. Valadez is currently
awaiting sentencing on October 2, 2019. Neira and Valadez pleaded guilty to the same false statement charge–
Neira on March 29, 2018; Valadez on April 26, 2018.
The United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General-Investigations, with the assistance of
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted this investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Todd
Keagle is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
Eagle Pass Police Chief Albert Guajardo recently issued out a statement on Friday, March 29 addressing loose animals and the consequences of animal bites/attacks.
“ I would like to remind the community of the city ordinance pertaining to animals within City Limits, more specifically, dogs running at large. Animals including dogs must be contained within one’s private property and refrain from the infringing on surrounding homes and their inhabitants. Simply put, pet owners, especially owners of all breeds of dogs are responsible for keeping their pets in a secure area of the residence where the animals cannot leave the premises,” stated Chief Guajardo. “I also want to remind the community about citizens who fail to properly secure their pets who eventually end up roaming to the open public sector of a community, especially our public streets, specifically dogs running at large may come in contact with citizens in a menacing manner presenting a dangerous situation that could result in serious injury to our citizens. I strongly advise that all pet owners who fail to properly secure their pets, especially dog breeds of all types and an attack and/or injure a person in a public space will be subject to a criminal investigation and or fines. I advise the community to report all animals roaming or public streets that present a nuisance or hazard to the Eagle Pass Police Department at 830-773-9044. Avoid encounters with an aggressive type of animal, for example, large breed dogs as much as possible. Contact 911 emergency if an aggressive type dog is seen in our streets or has been the subject of an attack and/or bite of a person. When a complaint is received on an animal running at large, the City of Eagle Pass Police Department, Animal Control Officers and Code Enforcement Officers may enforce the provisions set forth in Chapter 6 of the Code of Ordinances for the City of Eagle Pass. Penalties for violation of this ordinance under Section 6- 27 may result in the issuance of a municipal court citation with fines not to exceed $200 for every day that such violation continues, and each violation will be considered a separate offense. Chapter 6 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Eagle Pass may be found at http//www.eaglepasstx.us/ under the government tab, City Secretary, Ordinances. I welcome all our citizens to obey all our city ordinances especially those that may bring harm to others,” concluded Guajardo.
In the past 30 days The City of Eagle Pass Vector Control has reported 5 animal bites within city limits.
United States President Donald Trump has threatened to shut down all Port of Entries along, the Southwestern Border by this week.
The actions are in part due to an influx of Central American migrants who have surged the number of illegal detentions this fiscal year as compared to the same time last year.
Trump has stated that this will be done so because of Mexico’s inability to stop illegal immigration to the U.S. from their country.
The issue goes far beyond an illegal immigration problem and a shutdown of the ports of entries would severely affect the economy of both sides of the border.
A substantial closure could heavily impact both nations.
In our region, the Eagle Pass Port of Entries handles trade flows of about $40,000,000,000 on an annual basis. A closure would also hit the City of Eagle Pass who’s budget is largely made up from bridge revenues.
Eagle Pass Mayor Ramsey E. Cantu sees no sense in the President’s declaration of closing the border in the face of the immigration crisis.
“We hope it does not happen,” Mayor Cantu.”This actions would obviously affect both countries negatively in numerous ways including the commercial, economic and other aspects.”
Mayor Cantu expressed that he had reiterated on numerous occasions that what needs to be set is comprehensive migratory reform which would help address issues such as surges of caravans instead of closing the border which would come with negative economic repercussions.
“We hope that the closure of the border will not take place, but with this President we do not know,” concluded Mayor Cantu.
Sexual Assaults are a serious matter and are highlighted even more during the month of April which is designated across the nation to bring awareness to the problem.
Sexual assaults are a serious criminal offense in both Maverick County and in the United States.
During the month of March, the Maverick County Sheriff’s Department received three sexual assault complaints and are currently investigating them.
Sheriff Tom Schmerber is a strong advocate against crimes against women and children and urges anyone who has been victimized or knows of anyone who has to report it immediately to the authorities.
In the United States, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men have been raped in their lifetime. The City of Eagle Pass and Maverick County are in not immune to sexual assaults.
A majority of the assaults are often committed by people known to the victim.
“We will not tolerate such acts. We’re here to help those persons in any way we can and we will go after any perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law,” concluded Schmerber.
If you are a victim or know of anyone who has been sexually assaulted your are encouraged to report such a crime.
Illegal immigration into the United States has been in existence since a border was set in 1845 with the annexation of Texas by President James K. Polk.
Recently, amid a surge of undocumented immigrants looking to cross into U.S. soil illegally in search of asylum and freedom the federal government has begun to catch and release thousands of individuals under their own recognizance something not done since 2014.
In Eagle Pass, hundreds of migrants are being dropped off by United States Border Patrol in the downtown area with a set of documents and a promise to appear before the Federal Courts once they are called upon.
This is occurring due to a saturation of the Federal Detention Centers that are filled beyond capacity.
We recently spoke to an adult female from Honduras who was detained along with her two children and husband on April 1, 2019, and released into the U.S. population the following day.
Yulissa stated that she had been released after being in custody for only a few hours and given orders under removal proceeding section 240 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to appear for a court date, although a court date was not established in the paperwork she possessed.
“ I understand that there is a process. We made the decision to run from our home because of the dangers we face each day. My husband was severely beaten by the Maras within an inch of his life. He lost his hearing from the beating he received. We cannot return to our country. I’m afraid for our lives,” said Yulissa.
Yullisa added that she hopes to seek asylum once they are brought in front of an immigration judge.“We can’t go back. They will kill us.”
“I understand we came into the country illegally, but we are doing this for our children and hope that the U.S. Government has mercy on us as many others that are running from the same or worse situations,” added Yullissa while fighting back tears.” I do want to thank the President for allowing us to stay here while our issue is resolved and hope that we are granted asylum. Our lives depend on it.”
Yullisa like many others who have come into the United States have been set free into the country with only a few pieces of legal documents that could ultimately determine their fate, of either being deported back to their country or allow them to seek asylum through establishing credible fear and go through the process which has been established since 1951.
U.S. Representative Will Hurd Invites TX-23 High School Students to Participate in Congressional Art Competition
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Will Hurd (TX-23) issues an invitation to high school students who reside in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas to enter the annual Congressional Art Competition. Every year, Congress holds an art competition to spotlight talented young artists throughout the country. The winner from each Congressional district will have their artwork displayed in the United States Capitol Building for the following year.
“I’m more impressed year after year of the caliber of our talented students across South and West Texas,” said Hurd. “Each submission shows me a portrait of the communities that I love to represent and champion in Congress.”
Students who are interested in learning more about the contest can visit Rep. Hurd’s website or call his San Antonio District Office at 210-921-3130. Entries will be able to be submitted to his San Antonio office starting Monday, April 29 with a deadline of 11:59pm CT on Friday, May 3.
Last year’s winner was Eagle Pass High School senior Keanna Saucedo, for her drawing titled “Beyond the Riverside,” which depicts the natural landscape of the Rio Grande River between her hometown of Eagle Pass, and Piedras Negras, Mexico.
U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Eagle Pass Station apprehended a large group of undocumented immigrants early Saturday morning near the Port of Entry in Eagle Pass.
At approximately 6:55 a.m., agents conducting routine patrol operations encountered a group of 56 people who had recently crossed the Rio Grande River. All of the people in the group were Honduran nationals, many of whom were women and children ranging from 4 months to 16 years of age. Agents transported the group to the Eagle Pass South Station for processing.
“Our agents are encountering larger groups of immigrants including women and children,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez. “Until recently, groups of this size have been uncommon in the Del Rio area. Our highest priority will always be the safety of all people involved no matter the situation. However, it is a criminal offense to enter the United States at a place other than a designated port of entry. Those who choose to enter illegally will be arrested and handled accordingly.”
This group ranks among the largest that have recently crossed in Del Rio Sector. Agents have arrested several groups ranging in size from 25 to 35 people, with total sector arrests this weekend alone totaling more than 500. In February, a group of 90 including women and children, surrendered to Border Patrol agents in Quemado.
The Del Rio Border Patrol Sector is part of the South Texas Corridor, which leverages federal, state and local resources to combat transnational criminal organizations. To report suspicious activity call the Del Rio Sector’s toll free number at 1-866-511-8727.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.