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Cuellar associates to plead guilty in assisting in bribery scheme, will assist investigation

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) gives an interview in Laredo, Texas, U.S., October 9, 2019.
Veronica Cardenas
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar

A former aide and a political strategist for Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar pleaded guilty to assisting the lawmaker with an alleged bribery scheme.

In court documents that were first reported by the San Antonio Express-News, Colin Strother and Florencio Rendon — Cuellar’s former chief of staff and campaign manager — took plea deals earlier this year in relation to Cuellar’s indictment last week.

The plea agreements detail that Strother and Rendon acted as middlemen for Cuellar in order to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars between a Mexican bank and Imelda Cuellar.

Documents allege Cuellar and Rendon arranged a money laundering scheme while attending a conference in Mexico City in 2015.

Mexican bank executives needed lobbying help from Cuellar to establish relationships with U.S. banks for Mexican workers in the U.S. sending money back to Mexico. Those executives then allegedly sent money to Cuellar for that lobbying.

By the time he and his wife were indicted Friday on federal charges of money laundering, bribery, and conspiracy, many of his supporters had already moved on from the news that his office was raided by the FBI in January 2022.

At Cuellar's suggestion, Rendon sent the money received from bank executives to Strother, who deposited the money into a “sham” consulting business account owned by Imelda Cuellar, the plea agreement said.

The indictment said she provided little to no services for the bank despite being paid more than $200,000.

The Cuellars face bribery, wire fraud, foreign interference and other conspiracy charges. In a statement sent to the media hours before the indictment was unsealed, Cueller denied all the charges.

The next court appearance for the Cuellars is July 1 in Houston.

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