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Dem Congressman Indicted on Federal Charges

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and his wife were indicted on Friday, May 3, for allegedly accepting $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities in exchange for favors, according to charges unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The charges, announced in a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Friday afternoon, came to light hours after Mr. Cuellar released a statement that he and his wife were innocent—though, at the time the exact charges were unknown. An NBC News report earlier in the day correctly claimed the charges were imminent.

Mr. Cuellar, 68, and wife Imelda, 67, are charged with bribery, unlawful foreign influence, and money laundering schemes. The two made their initial court appearance in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena Palermo in Houston on Friday.

Mr. Cuellar, who has represented Texas’s 28th Congressional District since 2005, said in a statement obtained by The Epoch Times that he and his wife were both innocent and all of his actions in Congress have “been to serve the people of South Texas.”

“Before I took any action, I 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,” Mr. Cuellar said in the statement. “The actions I took in Congress were consistent with the actions of many of my colleagues and in the interest of the American people.”

Mr. Cuellar’s Laredo, Texas, home was raided in 2022 weeks before a primary election, and the congressman claimed his innocence at that time as well.

Indictment Unsealed

According to court documents, the couple is accused of accepting the bribes from an Azerbaijani oil and gas company and a Mexican bank. The congressman is a member of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus.

These payments were reportedly laundered through fake consulting contracts into shell companies owned by Imelda Cuellar.

In return, Mr. Cuellar allegedly influenced U.S. foreign policy to favor Azerbaijan and influenced legislative activity and pressured U.S. officials for the benefit of the Mexican bank.

Both Cuellars face multiple charges, including the following:

  • 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, with the possibility of five years in prison on each count;
  • Two counts of bribery of a federal official, with the possibility of 15 years in prison on each count;
  • Two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, with the possibility of 20 years in prison on each count;
  • Two counts of violating the ban on public officials acting as agents of a foreign principal, with the possibility of two years in prison on each count;
  • One count of conspiracy to commit concealment of money laundering, with the possibility of 20 years in prison;
  • Five counts of money laundering, with the possibility of 20 years in prison on each count.

“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,” the DOJ announcement stated. “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.”

More From Mr. Cuellar

In the statement from the congressman on Friday, Mr. Cuellar said he had met with prosecutors in Washington to explain “the facts” but that they had “refused to discuss the case” with him and his wife or “hear [their] side.”

“Imelda and I have been married for 32 years,” he said. “On top of being an amazing wife and mother, she’s an accomplished businesswoman with two degrees. She spent her career working with banking, tax, and consulting. The allegation that she is anything but qualified and hard working is both wrong and offensive.”

He added that the allegations have been difficult on his family, but with prayer he seeks to overcome them.

“As the son of migrant workers, I was taught to wake up early and work hard,” he added. “That’s exactly what I’ve always done for the people of South Texas. I’ve devoted my life’s work to creating jobs here, improving education, and securing our border.”

He said he would not shy away from running for re-election this November and added that he was going “to win.”

2022 Raid

FBI agents were seen at Mr. Cuellar’s home and campaign office on Jan. 19, 2022. Photographs shared by local reporters showed agents at Mr. Cuellar’s residence in Laredo removing bags, bins, and at least one computer.

The FBI said at the time in a statement to media outlets that the bureau “was present in Laredo conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity,” without elaborating.

At the time of the raid, Mr. Cuellar said investigations would show there was no wrongdoing on his part.

“As an attorney, I know firsthand that the legal system is the pillar of our democracy,” he said at the time. “I pride myself on being your congressman and always doing things honestly, ethically and the right way.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said following the indictment that Mr. Cuellar is presumed innocent but would take leave on an important committee while the matter plays out.

“Henry Cuellar has admirably devoted his career to public service and is a valued Member of the House Democratic Caucus,” Jeffries spokesperson Christie Stephenson said. “Like any American, Congressman Cuellar is entitled to his day in court and the presumption of innocence throughout the legal process. Pursuant to House Democratic Caucus Rule 24, Congressman Cuellar will take leave as Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee while this matter is ongoing.”

Mr. Cuellar is seen as a moderate Democrat who has previously criticized President Joe Biden’s handling of immigration and border policy. His district includes land that touches the U.S.–Mexico border.

He has represented Texas’s 28th Congressional District since 2005. The district includes land that touches the U.S.–Mexico border.

READ 11 COMMENTS
  • Donald says:

    Biden should have been indicated first with all the evidence against him that has already been released.

  • SammiJoCole8 says:

    The Dem’s and all of their illegal junk is finally coming to light! TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP 2024

  • rcp5 says:

    Oh, I am soooooo shocked. Would have NEVER believed that a democrat would do something like that. I will look up cnn and other reliable news to see if this is true…………….They say this is all a misunderstanding and that is your typical REPUBLICAN lies. I got this right from the horses mouth (Biden). We all know he NEVER lies.

  • Hog Jockey says:

    Another day in Bidens America, another dirty demorat! Its what they do!

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