Mission man sentenced on federal bribery charge

McALLEN — A Mission U.S. Postal Service employee caught on video negotiating a price with a politiquera for lists of mail-in ballots was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison Friday afternoon.

Noe Abdon Olvera, 44, stood Friday before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez in connection with a more than two-year investigation initiated by federal agents into claims he took money in exchange for lists of addresses.

Olvera, who was arrested at the Postal Service facility in McAllen where he worked in October 2014, was subsequently charged with four counts of bribery of public officials in connection with an investigation into allegations that the mailman took $1,200 in bribes from campaign workers on two separate occasions in exchange for lists of postal customer names and addresses.

In March, Olvera pleaded guilty to one count of bribery of public officials. In exchange, the government dismissed the remaining three counts he was facing, court records show.

Hidden camera footage from August 2014 obtained by The Monitor shows Olvera driving a Postal Service delivery truck on a residential street and asking Yolanda Hidrogo, who is named in the criminal complaint against Olvera, for $3,000 in exchange for lists with addresses.

“Tell Geovani (Hernandez) that if he gives me what Guerra is going to give me, that I’m in,” Olvera said.

“How much is Guerra going to give you?” asks Hidrogo.

“$3,000,” Olvera responds.

Hidrogo recorded the video while working as a politiquera or campaign worker for Team Liberty, the winning slate in the 2014 La Joya school board elections.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra, who was the only candidate with that last name running in November 2014, denied any involvement with the two men seen in the video or any other postal worker.

Guerra defeated write-in candidate Geovani Hernandez, the former La Joya police chief.

Javier Peña, an attorney and member of the anti-corruption activist group American Protection Specialists, filed a lawsuit in 2014 against Team Liberty on behalf of the losing slate, Diamond Pack.

The lawsuit ended in an unsuccessful two-day bench trial where Peña alleged Olvera and another postal worker Santiago Coronado conspired to sell lists of voters receiving mail-in ballots to the candidates running in the November election.

Ultimately, Peña failed to prove what he promised during the trial mainly because Hidrogo, his main witness in the case, was denied from taking the stand on a technicality.

Hidrogo’s recordings, which were taped over the course of several months, to include the video obtained by The Monitor, would have remained out of the public’s eye if it wasn’t for the Team Liberty’s attorney, who allowed Peña to admit a USB with everything Hidrogo recorded, into the court record.

In May 2015, five months after the trial, The Monitor spoke to a spokesman with the Postal Service Office of Inspector General who confirmed they conducted an internal investigation into the two postal workers and said they had presented their case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A federal grand jury returned the indictment under seal Dec. 7, 2016, more than two years after Hidrogo first approached federal agents exposing the alleged voter fraud.

U.S. Marshals Service officials immediately took Olvera into custody.