Texas Democrat Rep. Indicted on Federal Corruption, Bribery

Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and his wife were indicted on federal bribery and money laundering charges.

They allegedly accepted $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities.

“An indictment was unsealed today in the Southern District of Texas charging U.S. Congressman Enrique Roberto ‘Henry’ Cuellar, 68, and his wife, Imelda Cuellar, 67, both of Laredo, Texas, with participating in two schemes involving bribery, unlawful foreign influence, and money laundering,” a press release from the Justice Department reads. “Congressman Cuellar and Imelda Cuellar made their initial court appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena Palermo in Houston.”

The bribes were accepted between December 2014 and November 2021.

The government of Azerbaijan and a bank based in Mexico City were the foreign entities allegedly involved in the bribes.

According to the press release, the bribe payments were “allegedly laundered, pursuant to sham consulting contracts, through a series of front companies and middlemen into shell companies owned by Imelda Cuellar, who performed little to no legitimate work under the contracts.”

“In exchange for the bribes paid by the Azerbaijani oil and gas company, Congressman Cuellar allegedly agreed to use his office to influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan. In exchange for the bribes paid by the Mexican bank, Congressman Cuellar allegedly agreed to influence legislative activity and to advise and pressure high-ranking U.S. Executive Branch officials regarding measures beneficial to the bank.”

Both Cuellar and his wife were charged with “two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery of a federal official and to have a public official act as an agent of a foreign principal,” “two counts of bribery of a federal official,” “two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud,” “two counts of violating the ban on public officials acting as agents of a foreign principal,” “one count of conspiracy to commit concealment money laundering,” and “five counts of money laundering.”

If convicted on all charges, the Cuellars face up to 204 years in prison.

Cuellar said in a statement that both he and his wife are “innocent of these allegations.”

“Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas.”

The representative said he “proactively sought legal advice from the House Ethics Committee, who gave me more than one written opinion, along with an additional opinion from a national law firm.”