The Internal Revenue Service is seeking the home of Sindy Chapa, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the assistant director of the Center for the Study of Latino Media and Markets.
Federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit in a San Antonio federal court seeking forfeiture of a house at 1019 Fairway in Kyle, property owned by Chapa, according to the Hays Central Appraisal District.
Chapa has not been charged with a crime, but federal officials are seeking to seize her home for violations of allegedly owning a property that was bought with laundered money, according to the court document.
Chapa said in an email Thursday evening that "as today I have no formal documentation of what the authorities will do. Thus, I have no comments."
Matt Flores, assistant vice president of University Advancement, said the university is reviewing the incident.
"This is something that is a non-university matter and we have no comment at this point," Flores said. "Something may change later on and we may have a statement, but at this point this is not a university matter."
Flores said "everything remains the same" for Chapa's teaching responsibilities, but she did not show up to teach her Research Methods class on Thursday evening. The graduate-level class was instead instructed by Olga Wilson, an adjunct lecturer in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Wilson said it is not unusual for professors to substitute for other
professors when they attend events or present research and have to miss
classes. She said she did not know why Chapa was unable to attend that class, and was only asked to fill in that evening.
Wilson said she was unaware of the media reports of Chapa's forfeiture.
"She is a very responsible and knowledgeable faculty member," Wilson said.
Jacob Ehrnstein, mass communication graduate student who is in Chapa's Research Methods class, said a teaching assistant informed the class that Chapa would have a substitute that day. Ehrnstein said the class has only convened once this year and they mostly went over the syllabus, but he was shocked by the money laundering allegations.
"She seemed like she was going to be a great teacher," Ehrnstein said.
When a University Star reporter called the number associated with the Kyle property Wednesday evening, a woman answered the phone. Asked if Chapa was speaking, the woman answered, “I don’t know” and then hung up.
The Kyle property the IRS is seeking is worth $262,140, according to the Hays Central Appraisal District. The property’s value is more than four times Chapa’s Texas State salary, which is $57,750, according to the Texas Tribune’s government salary database.
According to a Sept. 6 San Antonio Express-News article, Chapa may be the ex-girlfriend of Tomás Yarrington Ruvalcaba, a former mayor of Matamoros and ex-governor of the Mexican state Tamaulipas. Federal officials have been targeting Yarrington for alleged money laundering, according to the article.
The Express-News article states Chapa’s past attachments with Yarrington led agents to claim that her houses in both Kyle and McAllen may have been obtained with illegal funds. Officials are also seeking forfeiture on her McAllen home, according to the article.
Chapa earned a bachelor’s degree in mass media communication at Valle Del Bravo University in Mexico, her master’s from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and a doctorate in International Business/Marketing from the University of Texas–Pan American, according to her curriculum vitae, provided by Texas State.
She has been at Texas State since 2008 and is currently teaching classes such as Mass Media Research Methods, International Advertising and PR Issues and Mu- sic Marketing and Media: Emphasis in the Latino Market.
She won the 2011-2012 university’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Service.