Lopez says he did accept a brown paper bag filled with $40,000 cash last summer from Ngoc Tri Nguyen, the “8-liner” gaming room operator also indicted in the alleged cash-for-favors scheme. The money was payment for a building he sold the businessman known as “Mr. T.,” Lopez says.On February 4, a federal grand jury indicted Crystal City's manager/attorney, William James Jonas III, 54; Lopez, 40; its mayor pro-tem Rogelio Mata, 43; city councilman Roel Mata, 44; Gilbert Urrabazo, 45, a former councilman; and Ngoc Tri Nguyen, 38, on charges of bribery. Marco Rodriguez, another councilman, was also arrested this year by Border Patrol on accusations of smuggling undocumented immigrants.
He says he was initially wary of the unorthodox payment, but figured it best not to ask questions.
“There, I asked the man, 'I don’t want to even ask what kind of business you’re doing because I’m afraid you’re going to tell me something that I don’t want to hear,'” he said.