McALLEN — He was just a cook at Stilettos Cabaret, a gentleman’s bar here, when Armando Jimenez met Juan Jose “JJ” Garza, the former executive director of the La Joya Housing Authority.
Jimenez wanted to try something other than cooking to make a living, especially to help his daughter financially with school, so when Garza offered to work together in construction, he took it.
This led to Jimenez and Garza now having to serve time in prison.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa sentenced Garza and Jimenez to 37 months and 18 months in prison, respectively, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud through a bid-rigging scheme. Both must surrender to the U.S. Marshals by 2 p.m. June 1.
Government prosecutors alleged Garza recruited Jimenez to submit fake, high-cost bids to the Alamo and Donna Housing Authorities between July 2012 and into March 2013 to ensure that Jimenez, as the low-cost bidder through his company Jimenez Construction, would be awarded the contract.
Jimenez would then hire Garza as a subcontractor.
The two men pleaded guilty to the charges in May 2017, although Garza appeared to do so reluctantly. At least, that’s how it seemed to Hinojosa upon receiving a letter from Garza after the plea agreement, and prior to Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.
In his six-page, single-spaced letter to the judge, Garza detailed his political history, including feelings of being targeted by his adversaries. However, Hinojosa said Wednesday that he didn’t understand the point of it...