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Two former associates of Rep. Henry Cuellar agree to plea deal related to bribery case


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Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas speaks during a hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on the “Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the Department of Homeland Security” at the Rayburn Building on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.



CNN

Rep. Henry Cuellar’s former campaign manager and another political operative have agreed to plead guilty to federal crimes and are cooperating with Justice Department Prosecution of Texas DemocratAccording to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

Mina Colin Strother, Cuellar’s former campaign manager and former chief of staff, and Florencio “Lencho” Rendon, a San Antonio political consultant and businessman, agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in March.

Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, were indicted last week on suspicion of accepting nearly $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities — a Mexico City-based bank and an oil and gas company owned by the Azerbaijan government.

Both the congressman and his wife pleaded not guilty. Cuellar has publicly maintained his innocence, saying in a statement last week: “My wife and I are innocent of these charges. Everything I did in Congress was to serve the people of South Texas.”

According to court documents, Rendon and Cuellar concocted the bribery scheme in 2015 after learning that the Mexican bank needed help doing business within the United States. Prosecutors say Rendon signed a false “consulting agreement” with the bank for $15,000 a month.

Most of the money was eventually sent to Cuellar’s family, prosecutors allege, but Rendon didn’t think it was a good idea to send the money directly to Imelda.

Prosecutors say Cuellar then suggested hiring Strother as a mediator. The alleged conspiracy evolved into an arrangement where Rendon would send $11,000 a month to Strother, who in turn would send $10,000 to a company owned by Imelda Cuellar, according to court documents.

From March 2016 to February 2018, Strother transferred nearly $215,000 to Cuellar’s wife, according to court filings.

Cuellar’s last name was not mentioned in Struth and Rendon’s plea deal agreements, but their case numbers are listed as related to Cuellar’s case in court records. The specific details set forth in the plea agreements exactly match the details contained in the indictment against Cuellar.

CNN has reached out to Rendon and Strother’s attorneys for comment, as well as Cuellar’s attorney.



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