Tuesday, October 21, 2008

THE BEHIND THE SCENE MECHANICS OF THE DISTRICT CLERK’S OFFICE - THE JOEY DE LA GARZA AFFAIR

Side note: This is too good to be true. While researching the name and address of the US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas I found the following on his web page.
"United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle (r.) presents a $2 million check to the City of Houston through City Attorney, Arturo Michel. The money represents restitution that Republic Services Inc. has agreed to pay the City of Houston for recycling purposes after entering into an agreement to cooperate with an ongoing criminal investigation"

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/txs/

What did Villalobos do with the million dollars he got from Dannenbaum as part of the money stolen from the people of Brownsville who pay taxes to the BND? He claimed it belonged to his office. And true to form, the most corrupt institution in Brownsville, the BND stood with him and said nothing. Villalobos could have signed the same deal with Dannenbaum in exchange for that letter of release. He did not. He took the money for his office. He did suggest after public outrage he would try and find a way to transfer some of BND stolen money back to BND. That is the last anyone heard of the money.

THE JOEY DE LA GARZA AFFAIR

Part of the problem with blogs is people post lies or just anything they want to believe. People who are in the know read this nonsense and then dismiss the claims. This only helps to keep the corruption covered-up. Although reported on another blog, it is totally false Cameron County District Clerk Aurora De La Garza assigns the judges to the cases. It is a half truth intended to mislead.

De La Garza’s office is in fact in charge receiving all felony cases filed by DA Villalobos. I would imagine on most days there is a stack of new filings brought to a file clerk and they are entered one after another. There is nothing unusual in this. Each time the clerk enters the appropriate information the computer, not De La Garza, comes back with a case number and the name of the judge to whom the case has been assigned.

However, and this is where there is a real possible obstruction of justice, any experienced clerk knows which judges name will come up next, or they have a good idea. The system can be readily manipulated by the right person. So theoretically, it is possible that De La Garza cut a deal with Villalobos that he can hand pick judges in the future to protect his buddies if Villalobos allowed De La Garza to pick Judge Limas. This is purely theoretical.

What were the facts about the investigation before the De La Garza plead no contest. For the record, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has found that no contest is the same in substance as guilty.

To understand the story you need some background. When Armando Villalobos was asked why Charlie Atkinson’s DWI was assigned to a special prosecutor he said he works with the City Commissioners and it was just best to have a special prosecutor. Okay - it is an appearance thing I will buy it.

But wait, the son of the woman who controls all felony filings is facing down a felony charge and he all of a sudden does not see a problem with overseeing the case? In the case of Aurora De La Garza Villalobos works with her every day all day. She has power over his files. In the case of the City Commissioners his working relationship is at best tangential. So why the double standard?

Once the Herald learned about the events surrounding Joey de La Garza, son of District Clerk Aurora De La Garza, it asked to see the police report. "The Brownsville Herald tried to obtain the narrative of the police report Friday, which would outline additional information as to what circumstances occurred. However, the district's attorney's office declined to release the narrative and instead is seeking an Texas Attorney General's opinion as to whether the narrative is public information. The Texas Open Records Act requires the disclosure of a police report narratives in all circumstances."

http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/office_90714___article.html/attorney_report.html

This is important because it is evidence of intent to obstruct justice. Villalobos intentionally kept this information out of the press to protect Joey De La Garza. He needed to keep the story under the covers until the deal was done. A public disclosure of the story would have meant the people demanding justice. This is an important piece of evidence of Villalobos’ intent if the US Attorney chooses to investigate. For the record the Brownsville police chief is free to open an obstruction of justice investigation, or make a plea to the FBI or Texas Rangers for assistance.. Okay you can stop laughing now - we all know the day the Chief of Police starts to investigate public corruption in Brownsville is the day he will be fired.

With the key evidence being withheld from the press and thereby the people, Villalobos was able to force the case through Judge Limas’ court. Villalobos says there was no plea bargain. False - he is a liar. He lied to the press. This is a basis for the State Bar to investigate. There is no way in hell that a judge is going to move a case as fast as the Joey De La Garza case without an agreement from the DA.

How do I know this? The DA could have demanded a jury trial. He did not - because he agreed with Joey De La Garza’s attorney to allow Joey De La Garza to do what is called an open plea. When you agree to allow a defendant to do an open plea, that is a plea bargain. I did many of these negotiated pleas. Part of the deal is, the DA will remain silent when asked for input on sentencing. Or, the DA will agree to only ask for probation or a very limited sentence. When the DA remains silent the judges know this means the DA is cool with deferred adjudication or probation. Every criminal defense attorney in Cameron County knows this. Why have they remained silent? Because there is not an honest bone in one of them. They remain silent because they want to be able to say "see Mando we are good little corrupt pieces of shit, we did not tell, now give my client a good deal."

An open plea is basically the DA agreeing - cannot happen without the consent of the DA - that the defendant can go before the judge and plead no contest. The DA had every right to demand the case be tried before a jury, which in the case of the son of a public official is how it should be done.

The DA could have asked for a continuance to collect data needed for sentencing. He did not. The Herald confuses me sometimes. They will spend money pursuing open records requests, but not a nickel to hire a local consultant as needed to help their reporters report on these cases. For now I hope the Herald buys a copy of the plea. We have the right to know if the DA waived comment on sentencing. If he did, this is further evidence of a backdoor deal.

But see, Limas is not very smart, and neither are the other judges. They all know the truth. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct can investigate the matter. The fact Limas is leaving the Bench means nothing. If the State Commission finds wrongdoing, and learns any other judge knew about it and did not report it, they can seek removal of the judge who failed to report the illegal activity. Limas may have thrown his fellow jurists to the dogs by opening a door to a larger investigation.

Unless Limas is willing to have himself committed to a mental institution he will not release Joey De La Garza from probation while there is a Judicial Complaint or FBI complaint pending. I am sending in a complaint along with the evidence related to the Livingston matter and how Villalobas’ former law partner Eddie Lucio made a killing on release of Livingston. I know Eddie Lucio. I worked at the first law firm which hired him out of law school. I oversaw some of his work. Competence was not something he brought to the practice of law.

Here is the Brownsville Herald Article on Joey’s non-existent plea bargain.

http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/haven_90917___article.html/sunshine_district.html?orderby=TimeStampDescending&oncommentsPage=1&showRecommendedOnly=0#slComments

If you chose you can write to any of these people. If there is an assistant clerk in De La Garza’s office willing to sign an affidavit stating personal knowledge of wrongdoing in this case contact me - I will make sure it gets to the right people in Washington. And to any Assistant Clerk who may know something or who may have been involved in possible wrongdoing - remember this - Zavaletta flipped on De Leon faster than flap jacks at a breakfast cook off. He who confesses first gets the plea bargain.

Don DeGabrielle
United States Attorney
919 Milam St # 1500Houston, TX 77002(713) 567-9000

To Contact the FBI:
http://houston.fbi.gov/06contact.htm

To File a Judicial Complaint
http://www.scjc.state.tx.us/

To file a Complaint against Villalobos

http://www.texasbar.com/Template.cfm?Section=Client_Assistance_and_Grievance&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=51&ContentID=7034

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of fucking crooks.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why Villalobos didn't seek a special prosecutor for Zavaletta and De leon? Isn't this an "appearance" thing? Also, I didn't see any mugshots of Joey de la Garza making the evening news. I thought the DA said everyone should be treated the same. It is also funny how all of these cases seem to land in Limas' court.

Anonymous said...

Armando Villalobos serves himself and his political gang first and the people of Cameron Co. last. Villalobos is vindictive against his political opponents and plays favorites with his "compadres" of his political gang. We are sliding back to our cronism and too many officials continue to serve Gilbert Hinojosa and Ernesto Gamez....the two Napoleon "wantabes) we have here. They are slugs, but the party still slides in their slime and Villalobos and Sheriff Omar Lucio are part of that slime trail.