LYFORD, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A former U.S. Department of Transportation employee out of Lyford was charged by a federal grand jury with bribery and extortion.

Patrick Gorena, 54, a former border investigator for the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, faced an initial federal court appearance Monday, according to federal authorities.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas detailed the bribery allegations prior to that hearing, stating that a grand jury in Houston returned an indictment.

“In exchange for minimizing purported safety violations he encountered while auditing a trucking company, which would have exposed the company to potential fines and the loss of their DOT license, Gorena allegedly demanded a $3,500 payment,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated.

The indictment alleges Gorena accepted a $2,000 bribe from an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a representative of the trucking company.

Gorena was charged with one count of bribery and one count of extortion. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison.

The DOT-OIG and McAllen FBI Public Corruption Squad are investigating the case.