Tuesday, May 21, 2013


DAY 8, VILLALOBOS TRIAL
AFTERNOON SESSION

We are waiting on the judge and jury. It is 12:54 A comment on the lawyers on both sides. Both sides are dealing with hundreds of exhibits and keeping theme straight. Both sides have been doing an exceptional job. This is some great lawyering on both sides.

I know people do not like the system, but for justice - which is the goal after all some amount of what some people might call deception of misleading is necessary.  It is the nature of the beast.

1:03 p.m.

Androphy back on Cross of Agent Gripka

REVIEWING LIMAS TESTIMONY

Limas testified he gave periodic payments to Villalobos with no specific dates.  Limas never testified he gave Villalobos on 5/29.  Gripka agrees that Limas never testified that cash was transferred on any of the dates his testimony showed a cash deposit or Money Orders after Limas and Villalobos would meet

If Limas lied, Gripka agreed then their evidence (based on a premise) of payments is incorrect. 

January 06, we see a lot of bank withdrawals - cash or cash from ATM's of Villalobos account.  They are looking  government summary charts.  The activities include wife also.

Gripka believes $8,000 in payments was to buy money orders - Gripka agrees they cannot prove for sure how the money was used. 

They are looking at entries related to Villalobos AMEX account numbers - Androphy is trying to suggest through questioning there is a problem with the chart.

Def. Exhibit 187.  Mom's account ends in 005 on the AMEX - Gripka does not remember how much Graciela Villalobos charged on Armandos account. 

1:20 p.m.

Government's charge does not reflect the money came from Villalobos mother - there is no evidence of this - Gripka holds the money came from payments to Villalobos. 

Gripka considered payments could have come from Villalobos - there is no evidence as to how much if anything was charged by Villalobos' mother.

[side note - for her to have the money Androphy wants the jury to believe she had, then she was receiving cash payments at the jewelry store - something Androphy himself raised  - this could cause problems tax wise for Villalobos mother)

Gripka cannot testify to activity on the AMEX by Villalobos mother.

Same model of questioning - If Graciela Villalobos in fact gave Villalobos cash for the payments then the government is wrong - Gripka is not answering the question - he is simply saying based on the evidence it is not true

Gripka agrees the 005 is for Graciela Villalobos - we are now looking at charges - in 2007 (I missed the exact date) she spent about $486.00  - remember the goal is to plant reasonable doubt. 

Another charge for Graciela Villalobos $1,841,00 April 2007.  The first was not in April of 2007. 

1:30 p.m.

The government just stipulated that Graciela Villalobos regularly made charges - the new one was $800 plus -

Another month later - Oct. 07  - $891.00

Gripka in mom's bank records does not show payments to Villalobos - assuming she every reimbursement him.  There is at this time no evidence she ever gave Villalobos any money other than $25

Jan 6, 2008  - $1,102.00 in charges by Graciela Villalobos

$1,230 in charges in another month for Graciela Villalobos

Gripka does not know if there were monthly charges

Sept 08, $800 plus charged by Villalobos mom.

Gripka - government did add up Villalobos mom's charge for the time frame starting in 2006 - about $36,000 - Gripka is not sure of the amount.

Jan. 09 same account number - $1,009.91

I think Androphy is doing a good job raising an issue of sloppiness by the government or at least a predisposition to believe all the money was bribes - versus payments from his mother -

Gripka the government did consider whether Villalobos mother made the payments but rejected it.  Remember her documented income does not allow for these payments - but Androphy raised the issue that the jewelry business has a lot of cash business, which would mean unreported income.

Androphy is showing a lot of cash withdrawals from the bank - through Sept 2007 - by Villalobos or his wife.

The bank account shows cash withdrawals during so called payment times with money orders.

1: 45 p.m.

Charge shows withdrawals before money orders bought.  There are more total withdrawals then deposits. 

Androphy is trying to get Gripka to give totals and he cannot - he does not recall the exact number - but Androphy is making no effort to add the numbers up on the board.  He is also not making specific links to the exact timing of the money orders . it is a general review of the evidence to paint a picture - without specifics in terms of linking money orders and cash received.  Gripka is just admitting the charts show cash and money orders , but no dates.

Gripka never broke down cash by 4 specific categories - cash from credit, card, cash from a deposit,

back to LIMAS 1: 56

I missed three minutes of testimony - signal went down and I was working on the signal

Androphy and female cocounsel are now going through evidence boards which have been written on - they are looking for something

DE LA FUENTE

Oscar de la Fuente did not state any dates other than the house seizure dates and lunch meeting

Concerning the underlying premiss linking meetings and money and money orders -

Androphy back on Limas without finishing ODLF

As to Limas nothing specific as to Ralles and Atkinson in terms of money orders

Back to ODLF - meetings were based on Villalobos' calender - ODLF for long periods of time never gave dates as to when he paid Villalobos'

8/30/08 money order - Travis Bence - and AES -

9/5/08 Graciala Villalobos bill was $800 plus also in October

Androphy is arguing that every month Villalobs is withdrawing money Graciela is chargeing monthly - Gripka does not know how Villalobos mother reimburses him.

Gripka does not agree that he does not care

8/27 and 8/30 trying to connect dates of meeting and then money orders - Gripka agrees that is what the government is doing .

Gripka testified that Oscar de la Fuente was cooperative and forthcoming

Gripka had about 10 meetings with Oscar de la Fuente

2:13 p.m.

Gripka - FBI prepares notes of interviews - witness interviews are not recorded as a matter of policy.

Gripka denies ODLF stories did not change - ODLF was the most forthcoming

Gripka does not agree that a tape recording is more credible than written notes

Gripka will not agrees we would have a more accurate understanding of what they said ODLF Valle and Limas had it been recorded.   Grikpa will not answer the question.  Gripka says it would take too much time to transcribe the recordings - but he does not know the reason behind the policy of no recordings

Trial preparation meeting with ODLF - played all the calls on both sides exhibits - they also met Saturday before the trial started with ODLF and his lawyer at his office.

Gripka is having a hard time as a witness - he sees throught the questions being asked and is trying to explain away the implication of the question rather than answer the questions.

They are discussing the issue of ODLF deal - Androphy pushed the issue of ODLF being allowed to practice law in state court.

Judge Hanen called a side bar - I think it was because Androphy opened the door to the jury being told the state bar has requested the transcripts of ODLF testimony.

2:30 p.m.

Gripka the starting point in every analysis is the appointments.  Gripka based on testimony of ODLF on specific dates ODLF never testified money was paid.  2/13/ and 2/19 - on those dates no evidence ODLF gave Villalobos payments

Gripka ODLF testified about a 1/3rd of the time made payments - based on the calender about a 1/3rd of the times money orders and cash deposits showed up.

A lot of anger btween Gripka and Androphy - Gripka agrees no note in calender saying payment

Gripka disagrees with the premiss if ODLF is lying there is no case - Gripka holds and refuses to accept the idea ODLF is lying - this struck the jury - Androphy pulled back.

MONEY HOUSE SEIZURE CASE

ODLF did not originally see the connection between the Pepe Villarreal case (murder) and the House case   - ODLF understood the connection once he viewed text messages which he reviewed on is on

Gripka calls Androphy's characterization of the testimony totally wrong - Gripka is truly offended by how Androphy is conducting himself and misconstruing testimony in the mind of Gripka.

The arguing is not helping -

ODLF $2,000 cash payment at the restaurant.  to Villalobos. 

Same pattern - DOJ is relying on ODLF telling the truth about the $2,000

[my question - why would Valle go to jail and ODLF effectively lose everything - including his law licence to just lie?]

[note I have not convicted Villalobos - he may have some reasonable doubt on some counts - plus we still need to hear the defense]

2:43 p.m

4/13/2010 - $97,000 check to ODLF - ODLF deposits it and $50,000 to his personal account -

[note - not smart to remind jury of these checks - why did Villalobos allow this to happen - the check is real - his own ADA backed up key testimony - why remind the jury?]

Gripka agrees the payments - advance payment - based on whether ODLF is telling the truth.

Gripka looked at the bank records for ODLF and no cash from his accounts - (many clients pay with cash so ODLF would have had cash on hand)

Gripka cannot remember if there were cash withdraws from Limas or Valles accounts. 

DEFENSE WITNESS WAITING

Rick Canales, Rick Zayas, John Blaylock, Michael Cowen - the court will only get to Rick Canales

3:11 p.m.

ODLF never gave a specific date about 2 $5,000 payments  -

Gripka testified Villalobos on average earned $150,00 a year - charge is 06 - 11 - about 6 1/2 years - during that period of time he had an income of about 1 million dollars - Androphy is doing the math - Judge Hanen opposes lawyers doing math (as a joke) Judge Hanen just gave Androphy a calculator - came out to $975,000 -

In terms of the  calls - Gripka was not testifying about the content of the calls.  No wire tapes on Oscar de la Fuente  - but on his employee Meme Longoria

Villalobos had a lot of calls with Lucio - Gripka on his own admits they are friends.

There were also calls with Abel Limas -

Deposit slip end of Aug 07, just over $3,000 - Limas
Deposit by Limas in December of 2007

Limas testified Villabos paid him cash - 1 in May and 1 in August - No cash deposit slips for Limas August account. 

The evidence is from Abel Limas testimony that Villalobos gave him money - this is  the only Evidence - again if Limas lied at trial? Gripka refuses to answer the  question - he feels like it is based on a false premiss.

Androphy passes the witness

AUSA Surovic on redirect:
3:32

As I noted above Androphy opened the door to the jury learning about the State Bar requesting the transcript as to Oscar de la Fuente -

This is the danger about calling your client as a witness -

Survic was allowed to show the order from the State Bar to the jury but had to stop their because the witness has no personal knowledge about the matter.

Gripka says his office has authorized the release of documents to the state bar.

On Villalobos one mistake by Androphy and Villalobos history of dishonesty and probated disbarment gets into evidence.

Gripa says most of the evidence concerning payments did not come from testimony but from exhibits.

Graciela Villalobos - His mother - they are discussing what was considered  the $8,000 as accounted for.

Does Graciela Villalobos use of his card create money or expenses - it creates expenses - [my note - it also probably creates frequently flyer miles]

Gripka does not remember who pays Graciela Villalobos electric bills

We are looking at  11/23/2007 - first he took out $400 in cash and then redeposit it in his account - so the money is considered accounted for (Villalobos account)

12/19 to 12/22 Villalobos spent below $1,500 in money orders -  the money orders are out of place - because there are during the period he did not withdraw enough over the week  before to cover the money orders bought

This is how Gripka formed an opinion about an explained or unexplained transaction

3:50 p.m.

2/13 when Livingston plead guilty and the day before a lot of phone calls back and forth

The phone records although not recorded when you have 8 calls in one day it means there is an intense grouping of calls

$3,000 payment from ODLF was at Stelettos night club  - no records of expenses by Villalobos that night.

There were also many payments in Villalobos office.  Evidence of ODLF meetings with Villalobos comes from Villalobos logs

On the recording issue of interviews the policy is made in DC and Gripka has no choice but to follow policy.

a 302 is not a statement of the witness - it is merely a summary of what took place - it is an aid for the FBI not the witness.

Gripka on measuring truthfulness - you corroberate the evidence

Gripka's analysis of Graciela Villalobos Amex expensings -  2006- 2011 She charged over $39,000 in charges - Gripka states there in nothing in mother's account to show a cash withdrawal to link with deposits attributed to the mother

RECROSS Androphy

Androphy again is pushing the issue that Villalobos mother was running a cash business - this is not helping the jury believe these are honest people - the jury is not stupid.

Gripka never personally visited the business of Graciela Villalobos - Gripka has no evidence which supports or refutes Graciela runs a cash business.

How many of the 40,000 calls were transcribed ? several hundred - the person listening to the call does a quick summary - called line sheets - summaries

AUSA Attorney Surovic on Redirect

The 40,000 wiretaps were on all the related cases and not just on Villalobos

Wynne is clarifying document 465 is in evidence - the request from the State Bar

THE GOVERNMENT RESTS

During the next break Androphy will be allowed to present his motion for aquittal outside the presence of the jury

NORTON COLVIN DIRECT - RICK CANALES - 4:12 P.M.

His entire family born in Mexico - father was a welder and mother a hotel maid.

He is a local defense attorney.

Canales went to UT - sustained on how he paid for it.

Went to law school at Texas Tech - graduated 1993 - he started as an ADA uuner Luis Saenz.

Rick Canales and Villalobos became friends - they worked together as ADA's under Saenz - they were both beginning prosecutors.

Canales with DA's office about three years - he prosecuted maybe hundreds of cases - he left after 13 successful jury trials - including a felony murder.

Rick Canales worked with Villalobos while he was in private practice.  Canales claims to have a large number of cases.  Canales worked directly with Villalobos when he had cases - he did maybe 1% of all his cases directly with Villalobos - Canales said it took take a while to see Villalobos sometimes you would wait hours.

Rick Canales would respect the chain of command and respect the court prosecutor - there were times he met with Chuck Mattingly - if the line DA was being hard headed. 

Colvin is tryiing to prove attorneys would see Villalobos without bribes

Some prosecutors do not care about the immigration status of young kids so Canales would have to go over their heads.

Canales says Villalobos had a heart and would listen to these cases which could result in deportation of a young kid who had lived here all of their lives.

Canales reviewing cases wherein he met with Villalobos - case 1 regular DWI - Canales does not remember exactly why he met with Villalobos - the notes say

4:25 p.m.

The client was given a lessor punishment because they could not make a DWI - it was reduced to a class "c"

In another case Villalobos was tryiing to get Pretrial Diversion and Villalobos said no - but sometimes he got better deals from Villalobos than from the line prosecutor.

Canales denies every paying money to a favor - Canales says he always maxs out by law donations to judges.  Many times Canales has donated to both sides.

AUSA Wynn on Cross

Canales has been successful and has made a lot of money.  Canales has contributed $4,000 and $5,000 to Villalobos -

Wynne is asking if having a heart is a subjective term?  Asking if Canales can know what someone is thinking?  Canales holds his feeling Villalobos' has a heart.  Canales also donated to charity organizations Villalobos backed.

Canales and Villalobos went to Las Vegas along with other attorneys and doctors -  they gambled - went to events - Canales never paid any entry fees for Limas - he really did not like Limas and Limas did not like Canales

March 10, 2009 Canales went to Mexico with Villalobos - about 4 p.m. - returned a couple of hours later - Mr. Villalobos wanted  to know where to go for medical treatment - Canales would to Mexico for treatment -

Villalobos asked if Canales could take him for medical treatment to Canales medical doctor.

Canales looking at Villalobos file traffic log on court files

8/29/2010 Ms. Torres - gambling promotion - refile charges all except Torres - refile as misdemeanor

Wynne allows Torres to say what he wanted - he does not remember this case. 

10/14/2009 - meet with rick canales - deadly conduct - destroy records when done - defendant is a snitch - notes from Villalobos on Canales client.

Canales does not know for sure trial started on the 13th of May

Friday May 10, 2013 - Canales was seen at the mall with Villalobos - both were at the Dillards - on a bench outside a bank -

Witness dismissed.

Androphy takes LJ Rabb on Direct

He was involved in the Amit Livingston case

Currently resigned from DA's office last Thursday - he is now starting his private practice.

Went to St. Mary's in San Antonio

Originally worked with Willette and Guerra - he did civil defense work

Then he worked doing civil defense work iin Harlingen

January 1, 2005 worked at DA's Office

When he left the office he was a second chair appellate attorney

The purpose of an appellate at trial is  to protect the record - this is actually a very good practice -

Worked on the Amit Livingston case

The case went from Rubane to Mattingly - Rabb also worked it along with Korina Barraza - When RuBane left the case was not ready for trial.

Both Rabb and Korina was second chair - he was doing appellate and trial work
This is the man who should have filed the Mandamus to  stop the release of Mattingly -  Why  didn't he?

Rabb three months straight trying to get it ready for trial.

Strengths of the case - circumstancial case - no direct evidence - but lots of small pieces which can lead to a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt..  Phone records show he lied about his location - also restaurant eye witnesses - also video from the check point - showing his video crossing.

Weaknesses in the case - strong case in guilt case - but sentencing - punishment phase - there was the issue of sudden passion - it is a mitigation issue -  it could lower the sentence 2-20 years

5:00 p.m.

Sudden passion is not beyond a reasonable doubt - but preponderous of the evidence - 51% sure

Other weaknesses - Search and seizure - The motion to surpress was denied - the search warrant was the best - there were potential errors within the search warrant - it was an issue which could have been raised on appeal - a loss on appeal would have kept out the evidence on remand which was found in his apartment

Rabb, this is the first time he saw a waiver of an appeal on a pretrial motion - this meant the motion to surpress - Rabb considered the photos of the victim a problem the mother and husband of the victim did not get along.  The mother refused to believe the relationship was real.  The mother felt the husband who killed her daugheter.

The photos were a problem - they were found on the computer of Amit Livingston

The photos put her in a bad light

Rabb is saying it would have been hard to present the Livingston victim as a good person because of the affaire - during the investigation it was learned Livingston was in her house and the husband walk in - he later  then saw Livingston trying to have sex with his wife - the husband got a gun - he was arrested and Livingston walked

The issue of ballistics - initially the findings were inconclusive, but later once additional evidence was found the ballistic case was better

5:14 p.m.

Livingston's expert said ballistics inconclusive -

There was the issue of semen on the jeans - the state never tested it - the defense tested it - the defense got the results just a short time before trial

Mattingly made the decisions about disclosing the evidence

In chambers it was clear Mr. Limas and Mr. Millett (Livingston cocounsel)  had worked together in the past and they had made millions of dollars together. 

This is one big CYA - this guy was the appellate guy - a first year law student would have know to file a mandamus to stop the release Livingston

Rabb and Korina Barrazas were working on getting ready for trial.  Millett and Gladden were always hanging out with Judge Limas - fine then why not file a motion to recuse - more BS CYA.

If what Rabb is  saying then he had clear evidence of bias by Limas which could have lead to Limas 'disqualification. 

In chambers Rabb knowns nothing about the 60 day issue

Tuesday morning Rabb and Barraza went to court.  That morning Rabb believed he was going to trial

They have witnesses ready to go.  Mr. Mattingly called to indicate he had been a major witness an accident.  He told Rabb there was a plea agreement  [ why were they not told the previous night?] on his desk.  They were trying to buy time until Mattingly got there.

They took their binder and removed work product and photos and used

We took a break we are back 5:38 p.m.

When Rabb got to court Gladden and Millett was already there with Judge Limas

When Chuck walked in Rabb and Korina had to move over so Mattingly could take the first chair.

Villalobos came in later.  When the defense started to speak about the 60 days Villalobos was not there - Villalobos when he came in he was

Rabb drawiing picture of the courtroom

Villalobos was against the opposite wall from all of the attorneys.

Villalobos never went near defense counsel.

After the plea - the defendant had to go on record as to what he did and why.

Rabb said the jury was coming in after the plea - makes no sense - no need for a jury.

Mattingly asked for the passport of Livingston  - neither Rabb nor Barraza were speaking

Okay now on the jury - they asked the possible jury pool if they wanted to watch Livingston admit to the facts.

Witness paassed

Cocounsel for Villalobos to make Motion to Aquit -  I do not know her name

This is normally before the  defense starts but Judge Hanen wanted to finish witnesses first

Counsel  for Villalobos states - government failed to put on any evidence Villalobos received any money from the Livingston case.

Count 4 - Limas did not testify to the amounts in the indictment - so the government cannot meet its first element.

The wording from another in the Hobbs count four is a problem because it requires Villalobos to receive money from himself as worded in the indictment.

Count 5 Truck Seizure case - 5k from De la Fuente and 5k Lucio - De la Fuente only testified as to $3,000.  There is no evidence as to Lucio

Count 6 - House Seizure case - ODLF alleged $10,000 given to Villalobos - but campaign contributions cannot be used to support a Hobbs Act conviction unless there is an express promise to do something.

ODLF gave money to Villalobos allegedly before ODLF received payment

Count 7 - fixing cases with ODLF - no testimony about specific other than he paid for access - no wrongful gaining of property

Judge Hanen is asking questions of counsel which refutes her argument

Counsel argues ODLF only testimony is believe me

She claims ODLF claims do not fit the allegations in the count

Count 8 - no specifics - no documents - just the government suggesting dates which link with meetings.

Count 9 Joe Valle - said he received no special treatment for his money.  

Count 1 - if you do not have the other counts then you do not have a RICO violation

There is an issue of bribery issue under state law - counsel arguing under state law compaign contribuation cannot be used for a bribery claim. 

6:11 p.m.

Defense counsel Ashley Gargour asks for aquittal

Judge Hanen to AUSA Wynne

What prove Lucio gave money to Villalobos/

Wynne suggesting the motion be ruled on later - ODLF declined  Livingston case - inference is Villalobos gave to Lucio to get money.

Villalobos is the only one who could have agreed to the plea and sentence at the same time

Why is the sitting district attorney consulting 8 times with Lucio the day before plea and agreeing to a settlement in the civil case.

Then you have Lucio making two $40,000 withdrawals -

Evidence of payment from Lucio in Count 5

Two individuals claiming no interest in the proceeds.  Judge Hanen wants to know where the money changed hands.  Lucio withdraws $6,000 after getting paid - and then you have the Villalobos money orders.

Count 9

Valle talks about using an offer for campaign money to get access to Villalobos - Judge questions if getting access is a benefit. Commonsense says he got consideration by getting an appointment

Judge Hanen has recommended the Motion for Acquittal be refiled because he finds some of the evidence thin.  But for now it is denied.

I agree with Judge Hanen that some of the evidence is thin. Some things were missed.  I know people do not like what I just said - but I am about process not the result.

Villalobos expected to testify on Thursday so for sure the jury will get the case late Thursday or Friday





7 comments:

Anonymous said...

A couple quick remarks.

About why de la fuente has motive to lie: He was granted immunity only if he could give testimony sufficient to indict Villalobos. Dela Fuente, along with most of the county, knew he was going to be indicted since summer 2011. His testimony that he voluntarily came forward in December 2011 is at best a half truth and is at worst an out right lie. Beginning with the Limas indictment the government warned of future indictments by naming future targets as Person A-G in court documents. Oscar was id'ed in the Longoria and Munivez indictment through a Person E or G (I forget)pseudonym in summer 2011. That's why his lawyer knew to voluntarily come forward in December 2011. Psuedonyms are used by USAO's as common practice to flip defendant prior to indictment. In this case the top target was always villalobos and the pseudonym was used to bring De la Fuente in, while giving the government some deniability on some of the Giglio material.

On Gripka: Did they witness prep this guy at all? It's good that your witness doesn't give in on cross, but there are some questions you just have to eat for credibility sake. "Would recordings of witness interview be more reliable than than notes?" Of course, common on. It's not like a yes on that questions hurt the government that much but a no on such a question runs the risk of damaging his credibility.

His consistent denials of obvious facts only lessens his credibility in the eyes of the jury and paints him as a biased agent.

Anonymous said...

What's with the side comments on evidence favorable to the defense? I thought you weren't going going to add your own thoughts until after trial so that you wouldn't influence the jury.

Anonymous said...

Is Judge Hanen recommending the motion be refiled as to CERTAIN claims (suggesting the evidence is thin on some but not all of the government's case) or as to ALL claims?

Anonymous said...

So what's going to happen tomorrow? Villalobos to testify Thursday?

Anonymous said...

WOW! Sounds like today was a great day to be in the courtroom. Very interesting stuff. Tell us was it as fun to watch as it was to read.

BobbyWC said...

It is taking a toll on my health - I almost did not go back after lunch - I am in a lot of pain - a host of health issues are grabbing at me - it is hard - very hard -

Emotionally it is taxing because I hate the system so much

I do like Judge Hanen - his levity and good sense is making it a lor easier - I cannot tell you how many times I am looking at him like - call a side bar - this is wrong - and he does - not because he even knows I am in the courtroom, but because I know the rules.

The attorneys have commented to me they have used my summaries to help review the day and have commented how my legal insight is making it better.

That part I enjoy - look no one pushed harder for this than me - but the DOJ has done a terrible job

I always call it the way I see it

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

Sorry.I feel ya.It is enough to make you wanna throw up.System sucks.DOJ sucking too.I agree Judge Hanen doing a great job and restores some faith into the hearts of Those who look for justice.Take a emotional break when this is over before you go at BISD and The city It's gonna be just as ugly...