SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — Former San Angelo Police Chief Timothy Vasquez attempted to appeal his federal conviction for bribery and mail fraud but was denied by the United States District Court – here are the details.
According to Federal Court documents, the United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit filed the Affirmation denying his appeal on Nov. 7, 2023.
This follows the conviction of Vasquez for one count of receipt of a bribe by an agent of an organization receiving federal funds and three counts of honest services mail fraud. As a result of Vasquez’s trial, they sentenced him to 15.5 years in prison with a $35,000 fine.
The government’s case in the trial alleged that Vasquez had accepted $136,000 over the course of nearly a decade from Dailey and Wells Communications, a communications equipment vendor in San Antonio. In return, Vasquez advised San Angelo City Council members to award two contracts, worth more than $5 million each, to Dailey and Wells (D&W) for radio communications systems.
Vasquez had previous interactions with the company through his side gig as the leader in a rock and roll band called Funky Munky. D&W hired the band to play at corporate events in San Antonio. Vasquez admitted he had made a mistake not informing city council members of his relationship with the company but claimed he saw his gig and his work on the radio contract for the city as “two totally different things.”
In an attempt to challenge the district court’s jury decision, Vasquez filed a ‘theory of guilt’ appeal based on what he believed to be an insufficiency of evidence to convict him of committing bribery. He claimed that the district court gave an incorrect instruction (document providing instructions for jury deliberation that are written by the judge) on the honest-services fraud count causing an ‘invalid theory of guilt’ of this crime.
Specifically, he challenged two components of the instruction: the inclusion of the word “gratuity” in the definition of kickback, and the “whenever the opportunity presents itself” language.
Bribery requires an intent to influence an official act while a gratuity is given “for or because of” an official act. The government ceded that Vasquez’s argument failed because the word ‘gratuity’ only appeared in the definition of ‘kickback’ and was ‘harmless’ in Vasquez’s conviction for honest-services fraud based on a valid theory of bribery.
Additionally, Vasquez complained that the jury convicted him based on an improper “as opportunities arise” theory of bribery for accepting D&W’s payments in exchange for an agreement to take some unknown action beneficial to D&W at some unknown time in the future.
The government again ceded that Vasquez’s argument failed because Vasqueze’s relationship with D&W came before the company’s relationship with the city as a result of Vasqueze’s previous relationship with the company.
To conclude the end of the appeal the government presented evidence that D&W hired Funky Munky after Vasquez was elected Police Chief in which the company paid the band three times the normal going rate. Later, when “the opportunity arose”, Vasquez not only supported D&W’s business relationship with the city he convinced the City Council to abandon its traditional process of requesting proposals. Evidence also showed that Vasquez accepted almost $180,000, disguised as fees for band performances, in exchange for support in future city contracts. Additional evidence found Vasquez was paid $50,000 by D&W after learning he was being investigated which the government characterized as “hush money.”
The court found that it was a valid theory of bribery, finding no error in Vasquez’s conviction and denying his appeal.