La Joya ISD trustee resigns from board amid indictment

    LA JOYA — School board trustee Juan Jose “J.J.” Garza resigned from his position on the board last week, stating he had too much on his plate with an indictment filed against him in September.

    LA JOYA — School board trustee Juan Jose “J.J.” Garza resigned from his position on the board last week, stating he had too much on his plate with an indictment filed against him in September.

    Garza was indicted on wire fraud charges in connection with a bid-rigging scheme that dates back nearly three years.

    He said resigning from the board would help alleviate some of the pressure from his responsibilities.

    “Why carry more pressure with you if you have to take care of this problem,” he said.

    According to the indictment, Garza submitted fake bids for projects under a company called Crane Construction and a person named Carlos Orillana, as well as bids for Jimenez Construction. Each time Jimenez Construction was awarded the bid, Armando Jimenez submitted invoices for work conducted by Garza and his subcontractors, the indictment states.

    Because Garza worked for a housing authority, federal prosecutors allege he knew the Donna and Alamo housing authorities would request the funds over the internet through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Line of Credit Control System.

    His indictment was not directly related to his role as the executive director of the La Joya Housing Authority or on the La Joya school board.

    However, he was terminated from the housing authority in December due to mismanagement and negligence, according to the housing authority’s attorney.

    Garza subsequently filed a lawsuit against his former employer claiming wrongful termination which is still pending.

    In the midst of his legal troubles, Garza said his duties as a school board trustee were too much.

    “It doesn’t look like it’s a lot of hard work but it is,” he said. “When you have a school district this big, with almost 30,000 kids, and then you have a total of 4,500 employees plus the parents, you get a lot of calls.”

    School board President Oscar “Coach” Salinas spoke with Garza before as he was considering submitting his resignation and said he wished him the best.

    “I can really understand where he was coming from but at the same time knowing that he brought a lot of good things to the table, he was very compassionate to the people,” he said. “He always has a good sense of humor.”

    Salinas said they would allow some time before eventually appointing a replacement for Garza.

    “But I know that our superintendent will address it when the need is there,” he said.

    A re-arraignment hearing on Garza’s wire fraud charges is scheduled for Wednesday morning in federal court.