BRIEF: Willie Gandara Sr. pleads not guilty to new public corruption charge [El Paso Times, Texas]

By Adriana M. Chavez, El Paso Times, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Feb. 11--Previous story by Evan Mohl

Former Socorro mayor and Socorro Independent School board trustee Willie Gandara Sr. has formally pleaded not guilty to a new charge in the public corruption case against him.

Court records show Gandara had been scheduled to appear at an arraignment hearing in federal court Thursday. However, his attorneys Jim Darnell and Joseph Vasquez filed a waiver of appearance today. In the waiver, the attorneys stated Gandara is pleading not guilty.

In a superseding indictment filed Wednesday, prosecutors allege that Gandara aided and abetted mail fraud, wire fraud and the deprivation of honest services when he was an SISD trustee in 2006. Gandara is accused of accepting a $1,000 bribe to support the school district's contract with a health insurance provider, Access HealthSource.

Gandara was already charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and deprivation of honest services in the same scheme. Gandara was indicted in 2010 along with 10 others, all of whom have already pleaded guilty.

Gandara's jury trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection on July 22 before U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo.


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