Two People in Politics Agreed to Deals About Bribery in Rep. Henry Cuellar’s Case!

Two people with ties to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) have agreed to plead guilty and help the Justice Department with their bribery case against Cuellar, according to court papers made public this week. In March, Florencio “Lencho” Rendon, a Texas businessman who was called a “close associate” of Cuellar in court papers, and Mina Colin Strother, who used to be Cuellar’s campaign manager and chief of staff, both agreed to plea deals.

The Justice Department released an accusation last week that says Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, took bribes worth $598,000 from foreign companies, such as a Mexican bank and an oil and gas company that Azerbaijan controls. There were charges against both Strother and Rendon for planning to hide money as part of the scheme.

Cuellar and Rendon are said to have thought of the plan in 2015 when they saw that the bank was having trouble doing business in the U.S. Court papers say that they came up with a “sham consulting contract” with the bank and a plan for Rendon to give most of the money from it to Cuellar’s wife.

Rendon approached Strother about a project to test and approve a fuel additive made by a Mexican company so that it could be sold in the U.S. He told Strother that he would pay him $11,000 a month as long as Strother sent $10,000 a month to Cuellar’s wife.

Two People in Politics Agreed to Deals About Bribery in Rep. Henry Cuellar's Case

It is shown in court papers that Rendon paid Strother $242,000 every month from March 2016 to December 2017. Authorities say Strother used the money to give Cuellar’s wife $1,000 every month, for a total of $214,890. Strother eventually realized that the fuel company project “was a sham.” He also realized that the payments were meant to “funnel money” to Cuellar so that Cuellar wouldn’t have to report it in his yearly financial disclosures.

Rendon could go to jail for up to twenty years, and Strother could go to jail for up to five years. On Thursday, Cuellar’s lawyer told NBC News that the plea deals didn’t bother him. Chris Flood, the lawyer, said, “If Rendon and Strother tell the truth, we’re not worried.”

A Justice Department spokesperson and Strother and Rendon’s lawyers did not answer right away to requests for comment Thursday night. Cuellar denied any wrongdoing in a statement released last week before the charges were made public. He also said that he had “proactively sought legal advice” from the House Ethics Committee. I want to make it clear that neither my wife nor I are guilty of these charges. He said, “Everything I’ve done in Congress has been for the people of South Texas.”

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He also said that he would keep running for re-election. This month, there is a special election between two Republicans who want to be their party’s nominee. In the fall, the winner will go up against Cuellar. Cuellar didn’t have a main opponent.

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