Anthony, Texas mayor arrested

EL PASO, Texas - Anthony, Texas mayor Art Franco was arrested by Texas Rangers Friday afternoon for allegedly tampering with government records, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

He was arrested at Anthony's Town Hall at about 1:45 p.m. and booked into the El Paso County Jail.

Court records show Franco's indictment was filed on Sept. 21 and that the alleged offense happened March 3, 2010. ABC-7 has learned that Franco is accused of writing a letter that falsely reported the earnings of Oscar Torres, who also works for the Town of Anthony.

Torres, supervisor of maintenance and oversees three employees that are responsible for maintaining the water system and streets for the Town of Anthony, was arrested at the same time as Franco and charged with tampering with government records, too.

It was not immediately clear if the arrests were connected to a search of Franco's home in February by the Texas Rangers and FBI.

Law enforcement personnel were seen leaving Franco's house with boxes in February. Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Elizabeth Barney said the Texas Rangers are conducting an ongoing investigation of Franco.

Franco said they requested documents having to do with an investigation that was first revealed in April 2011.

Franco said in February that he handed over the documents and said he had nothing to hide.

Franco said last year he was being investigated by the Texas Rangers for alleged misappropriation of funds and possible credit card abuse.

Franco said at Anthony's town meeting in February that his name will be cleared when everything comes out.

"I have a lot of faith in the justice system," Franco said. "I mean, it's about the fourth time in my career as mayor that (an investigation has happened) and thanks to God that everything came out, the truth came out, after the investigation and I hope it works out this time."

Franco said he could not elaborate on the details of the investigation.

It was revealed in April of last year that the Texas Rangers were investigating Franco for allegations he misappropriated funds and possibly credit card abuse, a source close to the investigation told ABC-7 last year.

A spokesman with the Texas Department of Public Safety told ABC-7 in April 2011 that the Texas Rangers had been on the case for several months.

Franco has been the mayor of Anthony, Texas for nearly 19 years. Franco told ABC-7 last year that he'd been investigated before and that he was confident things would be resolved in his favor.

Franco has previously served on the Anthony, Texas Town Council and the Anthony Independent School District Board. He also has served as president of the Rio Grande Council of Government where he is currently a board member.

According to the Town of Anthony Website, the town has added more than 25 new major businesses and has received more than $25 million in grant money for infrastructure and parks improvements during Franco's tenure as mayor.

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