McALLEN, RGV – The owner of KURV Radio and KMBH-TV, the Rio Grande Valley’s PBS station, says he has not been charged or convicted of any wrongdoing by the Department of Justice or any other governmental authority.
In a declaration to the Federal Communications Commission signed under penalty of perjury on March 23, Roberto Gonzalez Gonzalez wrote: “I have not been charged or convicted of any wrongdoing by the Department of Justice or any other governmental authority as of the date below. Nor am I aware of any pending or threatened charge.”
Gonzalez was responding to an “informal objection” sent to the FCC by investigative reporter Susanna Groves regarding Gonzalez’s plans to transfer control of 16 South Texas radio stations, including KURV, and KMBH-TV. Groves had submitted newspaper articles to the FCC showing that some members of the Gonzalez family have been investigated and charged by the DOJ. Gonzalez has not been charged and neither has his father, Roberto Casimiro Gonzalez Treviño.
Gonzalez family members have extensive radio and TV interests in Coahuila, Mexico, and the South Texas border region. Groves said it was legitimate to ask whether transferring control of the stations in South Texas was in any way connected to an ongoing DOJ investigation.
Both Groves’ objection and Gonzalez’s response have been posted on the FCC website.
“I am the sole trustee and beneficiary of the R Media Trust, which is the controlling member of MB Revolution LLC,” Gonzalez declared to the FCC, on March 24, 2015. “I have reviewed the attached letter responding to the e-mail correspondence from Ms. Susanna Groves. The facts contained within the response are, to the best of my knowledge, information and belief formed after reasonable inquiry, true and correct.”
Gonzalez’s declaration was contained in a letter sent by Gonzalez’s Washington, D.C.,-based attorney, Gregory L. Masters, to David J. Brown, deputy chief of the video division at the FCC. The letter refers to an application by R Media Trust to transfer control of radio and TV stations in the MB Revolution LLC chain from R Media Trust to R Communications Trust.
Masters, Gonzalez’s attorney, has not returned calls from the Rio Grande Guardian seeking comment. In his March 24 letter to the FCC, Masters wrote:
“The primary focus of Ms. Groves’ communication appears to be what she characterizes as an ‘ongoing investigation’ by the U.S. Department of Justice into the ‘Gonzalez family.’ Most of Ms. Groves’ supporting material consists of press articles (some of which have apparently been translated from Spanish into English), which the Commission has consistently held are the equivalent of hearsay and do not satisfy Section 309 (d) personal knowledge and specificity requirements.
“Moreover, it is well established that press accounts and un-adjudicated allegations of misconduct not involving the Communications Act or Commission rule and policies do not constitute the basis of a prima facie showing that an applicant lacks the character qualifications to be a Commission licensee.
“Except for a drug-related conviction of an individual with no connection to Revolution, nothing in Ms. Groves’ material references an adjudicated finding of misconduct on anyone’s part.
“Thus, the material that Ms. Groves proffers would be insufficient to raise an issue as to the character qualifications of Revolution and the R Media Trust, even if anything in that material pertained to Roberto Gonzalez. But it does not. The name of Roberto Gonzalez – trustee of the R Media Trust, the controlling member of Revolution – is not mentioned in any of the press accounts that Ms. Groves supplies, and Mr. Gonzalez is not even alleged in Ms. Groves’ own commentary to be involved in the legal matters she cites.
“As is established in his attached declaration under penalty of perjury, Mr. Gonzalez has not been charged, let alone convicted, of any wrongdoing by the DOJ or any governmental authority.
“Purely and simply, nothing in Ms. Groves’ objection to any party to the subject applications, let alone is sufficient to raise a question as the applications’ grant-ability. The Commission should dismiss the objection and grant the applications promptly.”
In a footnote to his letter, Masters wrote: “We note that the full name of Roberto Gonzalez, trustee of R Media Trust, is Roberto Gonzalez Gonzalez. Roberto Casimiro Gonzalez Treviño, whose name appears occasionally in Ms. Groves’ materials, is Roberto Gonzalez Gonzalez’s father but has no ownership interest in, or positional relationship to, Revolution or the R Media Trust.”
In a Prezi power point presentation made when R Communications was in the process of purchasing KMBH TV – the Valley’s PBS station – from the Diocese of Brownsville, the company said this about Roberto Gonzalez Gonzalez: “Mr. Gonzalez comes from a family with a vast knowledge in the telecommunications industry. His family is the founding family of the first cable system in Mexico, and now one of the largest in the state. RCG Radio y Television is the leading cable, radio and television company in the state of Coahuila. Mr. Gonzalez served there many years as the chief advisor and senior executive vice president, instilling inspired creative ideas that would keep the company moving forward and keeping it on the forefront of the industry. By profession, Roberto G. Gonzalez is a talented attorney but his heart, his passion and his dedication are in the telecommunications industry.”
Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of R Communications Radio & Television (not to be confused with R Communications Trust), did not return calls for comment about the transfer of control of R Media Trust to R Communications Trust.
The sole trustee and beneficiary of R Communications Trust is Robert L. Reed of Scottsdale, Arizona. In a brief telephone conversation with the Rio Grande Guardian, Reed said: “We are a private company and I do not want to give an interview about this. Your best bet is to call the CEO of the company.”
Among the stations Gonzalez and R Media Trust want to transfer to R Communications Trust are: KLNT 1490, in Laredo, KURV 710 in McAllen, KVJY 840 in Pharr, KEPS 1270 in Eagle Pass, KMBH Channel 38 in Harlingen, KBDR-FM 100.5 in Laredo, KAJP 93.5 in Carrizo Springs, KBDR 100.5 in Mirando City, KNEX 106.1 in Laredo, KBUC 102.1 in Raymondville, KESO 92.7 in South Padre Island, KJAV 104.9 in Alamo, KZSP 95.3 in South Padre Island, MBM Radio Eagle Pass 92.7 in Eagle Pass, KBNU 93.9 in Uvalde, KUVA 102.3 in Uvalde, and KVOU 104.9 in Uvalde.
Groves has covered media matters as a freelance reporter for Beyond Arts Magazine. In her “informal objection,” Groves recommended the FCC place on hold the applications to transfer control of MB Revolution’s South Texas radio stations and KMBH-TV from R Media Trust to R Communications Trust “pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation by the United States Department of Justice, San Antonio office, into the Gonzalez family and their extensive involvement in U.S. business trusts which fund the acquisition, purchase, and administration of a number of radio and television stations throughout south Texas.”
In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, Groves said she first sent information to the FCC when objecting to the $8 million sale of KMBH TV, the Valley’s PBS station, from the Diocese of Brownsville to R Communications. “Both the RGV Equal Voice Network and I alerted the FCC to the DOJ investigation but they ignored our objections and allowed the sale to go through. This time, at least, they have raised the concerns to the level of an informal objection.”
Groves referenced an email she received from Russell Leachman, an attorney for the DOJ based in San Antonio. Groves had sent him newspaper articles about the Gonzalez family and its acquisition of radio stations in South Texas. In an email dated February 20, 2015, Leachman replied: “Thank you for the information. I will pass it on to law enforcement. Again, as I told you previously, DOJ policy does not allow me to comment on pending investigations. Please know that I don’t mean to ignore you and I appreciate your interest protecting the integrity of U.S. radio stations. Thanks.”
Groves said it would be interesting to know how so many South Texas radio stations, and KMBH TV, were acquired by the Gonzalez family in such amount of time. “It went from a handful of radio stations to almost 30 in just a few short years.”
Groves said she also wants to know why the proposed transfer of control of KMBH TV is happening so fast. “The sale of KMBH-TV from the Diocese of Brownsville to R Communications was completed on January 26, 2015, and Roberto Gonzalez applied to transfer its ownership on February 5, 2015, less than two weeks later. What is the rush?”
Groves said she disagrees with the analysis of Masters, Gonzalez’s attorney, regarding the dismissal of newspaper articles as hearsay. She said there are exceptions to the rule against hearsay in the Federal Rules of Evidence and believes the FCC should take these into account when considering her objection.
Groves sent the FCC numerous newspaper articles about a federal investigation of the Gonzalez family. Some of the articles were published by the San Antonio Express-News. Much of the Express-News’ reporting has been done by staff writers Jason Buch and Guillermo Contreras.
In December 2014, the Express-News reported that Rolando Gonzalez Treviño had pleaded not guilty to “charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to transfer stolen securities from Mexico to the United States and conspiracy to commit money laundering.” Gonzalez-Treviño, an uncle of Roberto Gonzalez Gonzalez, “owns several pieces of real estate in San Antonio and a TV station in Eagle Pass,” the newspaper reported. He is also president of the media consortium Núcleo Radio Televisión de Monclova in Coahuila, also known as NRT.
“He didn’t do what he’s accused of,” said San Antonio attorney Brandon Hudson, told the Express-News, in reference to Rolando Gonzalez Trevino. According to the Express-News, NRT representatives lamented his arrest and said the honor, morals and reputation of Gonzalez-Treviño or NRT are not in doubt. “Rolando González-Treviño and the companies he represents have worked for generations in favor of the community, delivering healthy programming, entertainment and clear and impartial information about what happens in our community, state and country,” the message said.
Raúl González, another uncle of Roberto Gonzalez Gonzalez, served as representative of the Government of Coahuila during the governorship of Humberto Moreira. Raul Gonzalez has had million dollar homes in San Antonio seized by the feds, the Express-News reported. Raúl González’s son, Raúl González Fernandez was convicted on drug charges and was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, the Express-News reported in February, 2015.
The Express-News has also reported, in November 2014, that the Gonzalez family “has been caught up in a U.S. investigation into allegations that state officials and unscrupulous businessmen laundered tens of millions of dollars in San Antonio.” The newspaper reported that during Governor Moreira’s term in office from 2005 to 2011, “the state government racked up nearly $3 billion in debt.” The newspaper pointed out that Roberto Casimiro González, Raúl González and Moreira have not been charged with any crimes.
Two people have pleaded guilty in the investigation so far, including Coahuila’s former treasurer, Héctor Javier Villarreal, the newspaper reported. “Villarreal pleaded guilty in September to one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of internationally transporting of stolen money. He was accused in court documents of taking out loans on the state’s credit and handing out government contracts in exchange for bribes. Villarreal agreed to turn over $6.5 million in bank accounts that he controlled.”