Two politicians reach plea agreements in bribery case involving Rep. Henry Cuellar

Two political operatives linked to Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, have agreed to plead guilty and assist the Justice Department in a bribery case against Cuellar. Mina Colin Strother, Cuellar’s former campaign manager, and Florencio “Lencho” Rendon, a Texas businessman tied to Cuellar, signed plea deals in March. The Justice Department recently released an indictment alleging that Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, accepted $598,000 in bribes from foreign entities including a Mexican bank and an oil and gas company owned by Azerbaijan.

Strother and Rendon were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with the bribery scheme. The alleged scheme began in 2015 when Cuellar and Rendon devised a plan to funnel money from the struggling Mexican bank to Cuellar’s wife through a “sham consulting contract.” Rendon also approached Strother about a project involving a fuel additive made by a Mexican company, paying Strother $11,000 monthly with the condition that $10,000 be sent to Cuellar’s wife each month.

Rendon made installment payments totaling $242,000 to Strother from 2016 to 2017, with Strother sending $10,000 monthly to Cuellar’s wife. Strother eventually realized the project was a sham designed to funnel money to Cuellar without it being reported in his financial disclosures. Rendon could face up to 20 years in prison, while Strother could face up to five years.

Cuellar’s attorney, Chris Flood, stated that he is not concerned about the plea deals and believes that if Strother and Rendon tell the truth, there is nothing to worry about. Cuellar has denied any wrongdoing and sought legal advice from the House Ethics Committee. He maintains his innocence and plans to continue his re-election bid. Two Republicans are competing for their party’s nomination in a runoff election to face Cuellar in the fall.

It remains to be seen how this case will develop and what impact it may have on Cuellar’s political career. The Justice Department, along with the attorneys for Strother and Rendon, have not commented on the matter. Cuellar’s insistence on his innocence and commitment to his re-election bid suggest that he is prepared to fight these allegations and continue serving the people of South Texas.

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