Former banker and ex-EPISD trustee both sentenced Monday in public corruption case

Sal Mena, Chris Pak sentenced

EL PASO, Texas - Two people involved in El Paso's federal public corruption case were sentenced Monday morning.

Chris Pak, former managing director at Bear Stearn's Dallas office, was sentenced to three years probation and a $20,000 fine. Judge Frank Montalvo said Pak was cooperative from the start. Bear Stearn was not implicated in the scheme.

Sal Mena Jr., former El Paso Independent School District trustee, was sentenced to three years imprisonment on different counts, to be served concurrently and a $176,455 fine. 

Mena stammered and faltered when he attempted to address the court.  Montalvo then ordered a 10 minute recess, and sentenced him before hearing from Mena.

Mena was then allowed to speak.  He appeared shocked when Montalvo ordered him taken into immediate custody.

Montalvo ordered that Mena be placed on suicide watch, saying "Make no mistake; you watch this man."

Pak's Case

Architect Lorenzo Aguilar was indicted with former El Paso County Judge Anthony Cobos in December of 2011.

According to the indictments, Cobos conspired with Ruiz, Chris Pak and Antonio Dill to award the county's $40 million financial underwriter contract to Ruiz's company, Bear Stearns. The company was not implicated in the scheme.

Telles, a lobbyist, then presented the business proposal to county commissioners for their approval in a regular meeting of the court.

The bribes for Cobos, according to the indictment, totaled $4,500.

Prosecutors alleged Ruiz used Aguilar as a middle man to send money to Cobos.

The money would go from Ruiz, to Aguilar, to Telles, then to Dill and finally, Cobos.

Mena's Case

Bribes were paid to elected officials on behalf of ACCESS President Frank Apodaca, former CEO of the National Center for the Employment of the Disabled (NCED) and ACCESS owner Robert "Bob" Jones, and El Paso attorney Luther Jones.

Those elected officials included former El Paso Independent School District Trustee Salvador "Sal" Mena, Ysleta Independent School Board President Mickey Duntley, former El Paso County Commissioner Elizabeth "Betti" Flores, former El Paso County Commissioner Larry Medina and former El Paso County Judge Dolores Briones to perform acts in their official capacity which would aid ACCESS in securing and retaining lucrative health care management service contracts.

According to a 2008 Newspapertree article, Mena was admitted into Peak Psychiatric Hospital in Santa Teresa two weeks after a suicide attempt. Mena resigned from the EPISD school board in 2007 citing health reasons.

He served 14 years on the board in two stints.

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