CRYSTAL CITY, Texas (AP) - The mayor of a remote South Texas town who faces federal corruption charges was led from a city council meeting in handcuffs late Tuesday night after an apparent scuffle ended the gathering in pandemonium.
Mayor Ricardo Lopez was “inciting a riot” at the meeting Tuesday, Police Chief Jesus Lopez told the San Antonio Express-News. The chief is not related to the mayor, the newspaper reported.
Photographs and TV footage showed Lopez being handcuffed and put in a police car.
The incident came after Lopez and two council members were indicted in a bribery and conspiracy investigation earlier this month. The indictment accuses the town’s leadership of using their positions “to enrich themselves by soliciting and accepting payments and other things of value.”
One of those council members has resigned. Another faces human smuggling charges, leaving only one council member not under indictment.
“I think the whole town has gone crazy. This has never happened before,” Dora Paloma, a former municipal judge, told the Express-News.
A dispute began at the meeting when City Clerk Selina Ramos told the council a five-day period for Lopez and two other council members to resign or face recall elections had ended.
The mayor, however, argued the five-day period only began on Tuesday. After more discussion, Lopez recessed the meeting so he could go home to collect documents that he said supported his position.
After he returned, Lopez faced an angry crowd. After some shoving and angry words, the mayor was clapped in handcuffs. “Only in Crystal City,” Lopez told KSAT-TV in San Antonio as police led him to a patrol car as cameras rolled.
The meeting was recessed for at least 24 hours.
“I’m just sorry it’s such a fiasco,” former mayor Frank Moreno told the Express-News. “It’s not good for our community.
The Zavala County Sheriff’s Office said the mayor would remain in custody overnight until a magistrate sets bond.
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