Federal Law

A Year Later, Texas Attorney Roel Alaniz Admits to Bribery Charges. His Lawyer Sister Was Also Indicted in the Scheme

Brother and Sister Texas Lawyer duo caught up in Bribery Scheme arrested, charged and ready for sentencing a year later. Cynthia Alanis has resigned in lieu of discipline at the Texas Bar while brother Roel stands firm.

RGV attorney admits to detainee list bribery scheme

APR 27, 2021

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 40-year-old Weslaco attorney has entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery of a public official, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Texas attorney Roel Alaniz admitted he paid immigration detention employees for “alien detainee roster lists.” The lists were provided to him or his sister – Cynthia Alanis – who is also an attorney in the Rio Grande Valley.

The detainee lists were from the EL Valle Detention Center-Raymondville and the Port Isabel Detention Center-Los Fresnos. They contained names, dates of birth, country of origin and A-numbers of alien detainees. The attorneys would then visit them, or instruct others to do so, in order to solicit them to hire his law firm for representation in immigration proceedings.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez accepted the plea and set sentencing for Aug. 2. At that time, Roel Alaniz faces up to 15 years in federal prison for the bribery conviction and up to five for the conspiracy. Both convictions also carry a maximum $250,000 fine.

He was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.

Benito Barrientez, 43, Lyford, and Damian Ortiz, 31, Weslaco, were two employees of the Willacy County Regional Detention Center who sold the lists to Roel Alaniz. They also pleaded to conspiracy and bribery of a public official. They are set for sentencing May 11 before U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera Jr.

Cynthia Alaniz, 28, Weslaco, pleaded guilty to making a false statement in a bribery investigation and is set for sentencing May 5.

Barrientez, Ortiz and Cynthia Alaniz were also permitted to remain on bond.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Office of Internal Affairs conducted the investigation with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security-Office of the Inspector General and Homeland Security Investigations-Harlingen. Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce is prosecuting the case.

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Texas Attorney Charged With Making False Statement Related To Bribery Case About Alien Detainee Roster Lists

Mar 2, 2020

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — A South Texas woman and Texas lawyer was taken into custody Monday, following an indictment alleging she made a false statement to authorities in a bribery investigation involving alien detainee roster lists. On Feb. 18, 2020, a federal grand jury returned an indictment on Cynthia Alanis, 27, from Weslaco, Texas. She was arrested Feb. 24, 2020.

The charge stems from a bribery investigation involving Benito Barrientes, 42, from Lyford; Exy Adelaida Gomez, 42, from Los Fresnos; and Damian Ortiz, 30, and her brother and McAllen attorney Roel Alanis, 39, both from Weslaco. They were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery in relation to obtaining alien detainee roster lists.

According to court documents, the indictment against Alanis alleges she falsely stated she did not receive nor know of any alien detainee roster lists given to the Alanis law firm. However, the charges allege she had previously received detainee roster lists and knew of such lists given to the law firm.

Barrientes and Ortiz were employed at the Willacy County Regional Detention Center as a classification clerk and a senior program director, respectively. Gomez was a corrections officer at the El Valle Detention Center. Both facilities are in Raymondville, Texas.

The indictment also alleges Barrientes, Ortiz and Gomez obtained alien detainee roster lists from the El Valle Detention Center and the Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos while employed in their respective capacities.

The lists were then allegedly provided to Roel Alanis, an attorney with a practice in in the Rio Grande Valley.

Roel Alanis then allegedly paid money to the employees in return for receiving the lists which contained names, dates of birth, country of origin and A-numbers of alien detainees. The charges allege Roel Alanis would visit the illegal aliens for the purpose of hiring his law firm as their attorney in immigration proceedings. Alternatively, he would instruct his sister or others to do so, according to the charges.

If convicted, Alanis faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Barrientes and Ortiz have pleaded guilty and are set for sentencing April 29, 2020.

A Year Later, Texas Attorney Roel Alaniz Admits to Bribery Charges. His Lawyer Sister Was Also Indicted in the Scheme
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