Former PSJA board member Vangie De Leon speaks out
Tue, 25 Jan 2011 05:02:57 GMT —
Former PSJA Independent School District board member Evangelina 'Vangie' De Leon made a vow outside McAllen's federal courthouse.
U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Hinojosa sentenced De Leon to four years probation for her role in the PSJA bribery scandal, which started with an FBI raid six years ago.
The legal saga coming to an end on Monday evening with De Leon and five others receiving their sentences ranging from prison to probation to fines.
Judge Hinojosa issued a challenge to De Leon from the bench asking her to make amends and to find a way to serve the community again.
It's a challenge De Leon told Action 4 News that she'll accept.
"I don't need to be an elected official to make a difference, as she left the federal courthouse with her family.
Court proceedings painted De Leon's story as an example of the American dream, a rags-to-riches story.
The self-made woman was the youngest of 10 children whose father passed away shortly after she was born.
De Leon climbed out of poverty thanks her education and was eventually elected to the PSJA school board where she and other members admitted to taking bribes in exchange for awarding contracts.
Her record of community service is blemished by the scandal but De Leon told Action 4 News that she wants to start over.
She said she wants to find a way to help the community even though it may not be as a elected official anymore.
"We don't need to be an elected official to make a difference, she said. In time, I will come back out and make a difference and encourage other young people and especially women to come back out and run (for office)."
Her co-defendants Rogelio Roy Rodriguez and Raul Roy Navarro will have a harder time.
Rodriguez, who was known has Little Roy, got the stiffest sentence of the group -- three years and one month in federal prison followed by three years probation.
Navarro, who was known as Big Roy, was sentenced to two years in federal prison and two years probation.
Former Superintendent Arturo Guajardo got three years probation and a $5,000 dollar fine.
Judge Hinojosa said in court that Guajardo was the first of the group to plead guilty and helped make amends through his cooperation.
Defendant George Alonzo Hernandez got five months federal prison to be followed by five months house arrest, three years probation and a $3,000 dollar fine.
Insurance agent Arnulfo Arnie Cuahtemoc Olivarez got four years probation and a $25,000 dollar fine.
De Leon said she didn TMt escape intact.
In court, she said the case has placed tremendous strain on her marriage and family in addition to costing her political career.
As De Leon picks up the pieces of her life, she said she has some more immediate plans with her family.
To be with my kids and to be with them, De Leon said leaving the courthouse. They go back to school."