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.
A civil lawsuit was filed in a San Antonio federal court Sept. 4 seeking forfeiture on a house in Kyle, owned by Chapa, according to the Hays Central Appraisal District.
Chapa has not been charged with a crime. However, federal officials are seeking to seize her home for violations of allegedly purchasing a property with laundered money, according to court documents obtained by The University Star.
“As (of) today I have no formal documentation of what the authorities will do,” Chapa said in an email Thursday evening. “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. However, 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 did not know why Chapa was unable to attend the class, and was only asked to fill in for 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.
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 her houses in both Kyle and McAllen may have been obtained with illegal funds. Officials are also seeking forfeiture on her McAllen home.
The allegations of Chapa’s involvement in money laundering came as a surprise to her students. Jacob Ehrnstein, mass communication graduate student who is in Chapa’s Research Methods class, said the class has only convened once this year, but he was shocked by the money laundering allegations.
“She seemed like she was going to be a great teacher,” Ehrnstein said.
Paul Martinez, a graduate student studying journalism with an emphasis on Latinos in the Media, said Chapa was one of the reasons he decided to attend Texas State. He received his bachelor’s degree from A&M Kingsville.
“My impression of her (was) excellent—she was very intelligent and very dynamic,” Martinez said. “She’s got positive energy. She’s ambitious, a go-getter.”
Martinez was surprised by the allegations against Chapa, and said people should reserve judgment until all the information surrounding the case is available.
“Honestly, I don’t think people should be too quick to judge right now,” Martinez said. “From what I understand, there’s no indictment. There’s nothing that says what happened, so we need to know the whole story.”