Houston Community College Trustee Convicted of Bribery

A Houston Community College trustee has been convicted of bribery and now faces up to ten years in prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Monday morning.

Chris Oliver, who has been on the Board of Trustees since 1995, pleaded guilty to the federal bribery charges in May, but a judge only unsealed the indictment on Friday. He was indicted on one count of bribery and one count of extortion in March.

According to the indictment, Oliver solicited and agreed to accept more than $12,000 in cash payments and Visa gift cards as a reward for taking unspecified actions in his official capacity as an HCC trustee — which he admitted to doing in his guilty plea.

"It was revealed in open court at the plea hearing that Oliver met with another individual on several occasions at various restaurants and coffee shops in Houston where he accepted cash payments in exchange for promising to use his position to help that person secure contracts with HCC," U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez said in a release.

Oliver pleaded not guilty to the extortion charge, in which he was accused of obtaining more than $77,000 from a person identified only as K.S. while acting in his official capacity. It's not clear whether that charge will disappear; the plea agreement is still sealed.

In a statement issued Friday evening, Eva Loredo, chair of the HCC board, said: "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."

Meanwhile, Oliver has been fully partaking in his role as an HCC board member since he was indicted in March. He has remained out on bond, and awaits his sentencing hearing on August 28.
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Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn