HCC trustee pleads guilty to federal bribery charges

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HCC Trustee Chris Oliver has pleaded guilty to a bribery charge.

A Houston Community College trustee pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges.

Recently unsealed federal documents show HCC trustee Chris Oliver was arrested in March and pleaded guilty in May. The government has kept the case secret until now.

Oliver was accused of taking nearly $90,000 in bribes to influence his service as an HCC trustee, according to court records. Some of that came in the form of Visa gift cards, the records said. Oliver pleaded guilty to only one of two counts on which he was indicted. In that count, federal prosecutors allege he accepted $12,000 in bribes.

Oliver declined to comment Friday evening, saying only "I cannot speak to the case." Oliver referred ABC13 to his attorneys. We've not yet heard back.

"While we are still gathering the details of charges made against Trustee Oliver, we will wait for court proceedings to be complete before we make any further statement," said board chair Eva Loredo in a written statement. "Our main interest at this time is reassuring the community, our constituents and the students of Houston Community College that our institution continues to provide quality education. This issue is not at all related to our commitment to our mission of student success and support of economic development."

He is due to be sentenced in August.

It's clear the federal government has worked on the case for months. Court records show Oliver was first arrested in March and then pleaded guilty in May, but the order unsealing the case was entered Friday.

Oliver has been somewhat absent from HCC meetings this summer.

ABC13 has previously talked to Oliver, who was first elected in 1995, about his political fundraising. In September of 2016, we were asking questions about political donations from law firms, some of them unreported on Oliver's campaign filings. Those donations appear unconnected to Friday's case, but at that time Oliver denied allowing contributions to influence any of his votes.

"No one's campaign contributions affect my decision at the table whatsoever," Oliver said at the time.

Oliver is due in court to be sentenced in late August. He is facing a maximum of 10 years in prison but is not likely to receive nearly that much.

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