CRYSTAL CITY, Texas (AP) - A Texas mayor was released from jail Wednesday, a day after he was accused of disrupting a City Council meeting while fighting a recall effort that began before his indictment in a public corruption investigation that also has ensnarled most of the council.
Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez posted a $12,000 bond Wednesday afternoon and told reporters as he left the Zavala County Jail he would not attend any more council meetings.
“I will not step in another council meeting. Don’t care who the mayor is. Don’t care if I’m the mayor,” he said.
However, he did not say he would resign his office, as called for in a recall petition.
Lopez’s refusal to attend council meetings caused a Wednesday night session to be canceled for lack of a quorum. The group had planned to take up business left unfinished after Tuesday’s meeting ended in chaos.
Lopez and two council members were indicted this month in a federal bribery and conspiracy investigation, though one of the councilmen has since resigned. Another council member was arrested in January on unrelated human smuggling charges, leaving only one member of Crystal City’s City Council not facing criminal charges. The South Texas city of about 7,100 residents is about 115 miles southwest of San Antonio.
Lopez was arrested during Tuesday night’s council meeting as discussion focused on recall efforts launched last fall stemming from residents’ concerns about high taxes and how public money was being spent. The recall petition targets Lopez and two council members.
A dispute erupted when City Clerk Selina Ramos said the five-day period had ended for the trio to decide whether to resign or face a recall. Adamant that he had more time, Lopez recessed the meeting and left to collect documents to support his position. Upon his return, multiple media outlets reported, he scuffled with a member of the angry audience and was detained.
Video from local television stations shows Lopez being handcuffed and put into a police car. Police Chief Jesus Lopez, who isn’t related to the mayor, said he was “inciting a riot” at the meeting.
Lopez also was being held on charges of resisting arrest, search or transport and having a prohibited substance in a correctional facility. Sheriff Eusevio Salinas said that while booking Lopez, deputies discovered a forbidden substance on him.
“I believe it was a prescribed medication that wasn’t in the right container,” the sheriff told the San Antonio Express-News.
The City Council was meeting Tuesday for the first time since the recall petition was certified by the city clerk on Feb. 11.
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