CRYSTAL CITY, Texas — Former lobbyist James Jonas, 56, was sentenced Wednesday to serve 35 years in federal prison for crimes committed while he was the city attorney and city manager for Crystal City.
In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Alia Moses ordered that 56-year-old Jonas pay $1,047,814.05 restitution to Crystal City and forfeit to the government $17,291.73.
Judge Moses also ordered that Jonas be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term.
“Today Judge Moses imposed a just sentence for Mr. Jonas’s staggering betrayal of the public trust—a betrayal that left Crystal City nearly insolvent. But this was surely not an isolated incident. My office is committed to rooting out public corruption throughout Central and West Texas,” stated United States Attorney John F. Bash.
On June 26, 2017, a federal jury convicted Jonas of one count of conspiracy to commit bribery involving federal programs, three substantive counts of bribery involving federal programs, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and theft of honest services, five substantive counts of wire fraud and theft of honest services and four counts of wire fraud.
Jones was among five Crystal City public officials charged in early 2016 with public corruption offenses, including conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud. A North Texas businessman who ran an eight-liner parlor in the city was also charged.
Three weeks ago, Jonas was able to persuade the judge to delay sentencing by claiming that three witnesses perjured themselves.
Moses agreed, giving Jonas five hours Wednesday to prove the allegations.
Former Mayor Ricardo Lopez, and former City Councilmen Roy Mata, Roel Mata and Gilbert Urrabazo, all found guilty of bribery, have yet to be sentenced.
The sixth defendant, businessman Ngoc Tri Nguyen was sentenced earlier Wednesday to 17 months, representing the time he has been incarcerated since his arrest.