AUSTIN (KXAN) — A former police chief in Jarrell pleaded guilty in federal court to secretly soliciting and accepting money in exchange for favorable official actions.
Andres Gutierrez, 51, faces up to 20 years in federal prison for a scheme where he and an unnamed partner solicited and accepted money from illegal immigrants in return for requesting and obtaining limited immigration benefits from the U.S. government. A sentencing hearing has been set April 11th before US District Court Judge Lee Yeakel.
Gutierrez is accused of filing applications to receive a Significant Public Benefit Parole, or SPBP, which provides for temporary admission into the United States for those living here illegally, under limited circumstances. SPBP’s can last for one year and during that time the immigrant can live and work legally in the country.
Gutierrez claimed several immigrants living in the U.S. without permission were providing assistance with ongoing criminal investigations by the Jarrell Police Department, but authorities said that never happened.
Court documents indicate Gutierrez and an accomplice were taking anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 from each immigrant in return for the SPBP. He would also tell the immigrants the money was being used to pay for expenses related to official JPD business, but he ended up pocketing the money for himself, the documents said.
In December, agents with the FBI raided city hall, according to the town’s city manager.
About eight agents came into the building and handed over a sealed warrants, city manager Mel Yantis told KXAN in January. He said a forensic accountant was also with them and wanted to know how the accounting and record situation at city hall worked.
The town is located about 40 miles north of Austin in Williamson County.
Yantis said no one inside was allowed to have outside contact while agents were in the building. He also said they mapped out each room in the building while they were there.
During the raid, which Yantis said occurred before Christmas, agents seized computers and servers and did not return them until Friday.
“(The FBI) asked me about how our funds came in, how they were posted and worked through,” Yantis said. “How invoices were paid. Were there audit trails, things like that.”
City Hall also contains offices for the Jarrell Police Department.
Gutierrez, the only police chief the town has had in the department’s seven years, left last fall to pursue higher education or bigger opportunities in law enforcement. The city manager said he didn’t think there was anything suspicious about that, but did hint to who authorities were looking for at the time.
“One of the things they told us while they were here is it didn’t have anything to do with current employees,” Yantis said.
Magistrate Court Judge Mark Lane released Guterriez on conditions he surrender a DNA sample, his personal firearm and not travel beyond the borders of Hays, Travis or Williamson Counties.
Gutierrez entering federal courthouse elevator