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Former Adler adviser facing prison time after pleading guilty to redirecting nonprofit funds to himself

Frank Rodriguez, a former aide to Mayor Steve Adler, pleaded guilty for conspiring to misapply federal funds and falsify records. (Frank Rodriguez/Twitter)

Frank Rodriguez, a former senior policy adviser to Mayor Steve Adler, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to misapply federal funds and falsify records, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Rodriguez began serving Adler in 2015, in which he also served as a member of a City advisory commission and the executive director of nonprofit Latino Healthcare Forum. He will face up to five years in prison after allegedly accepting a $20,000 "consulting fee" in exchange for his help obtaining a federal grant for the nonprofit.

A DOJ document says in June 2015, he falsely stated that he was LHF’s “Chief Development Officer” and “Authorized Representative” and submitted an application to receive federal grant funding for being a navigator to the Affordable Care Act. When the nonprofit was granted the funds, Rodriguez emailed an employee to make sure they “were on the same page with respect" to his fee of “10% of the grant.”

He was subsequently paid more than $20,000 by the nonprofit in “consulting fees” between December 2015 and December 2016 after the execution of the “consulting agreement,” according to the government report.

Rodriguez, who is now 71 and living in Dripping Springs, continued to work on the nonprofit’s behalf while a city employee, providing confidential city information to the nonprofit and undermining the nonprofit’s competitors for city funding. But in 2017, the Auditor’s Office for the City of Austin started an investigation into Rodriguez’s conduct as a member of the city commission and as a city employee. He resigned as Adler's aide that year.

Additional allegations are that in January 2018, during the course of the investigation, Rodriguez drafted a letter to the City Auditor that contained multiple false statements regarding his relationship with the nonprofit, and the letter was later finalized and submitted to the City Auditor. At a June 2019 city ethics hearing, Rodriguez testified falsely under oath that the money he had been provided by the nonprofit was reimbursement for previous expenses incurred on the nonprofit’s behalf, the DOJ says.

On Jan. 7, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to misapply federal funds and to falsify records in an investigation within the jurisdiction of an agency of the U.S. He is scheduled for sentencing on March 24.


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