Wednesday, May 22, 2013


DAY 9, VILLALOBOS TRIAL
- AFTERNOON SESSION

CORRECTION - IN THE MORNING SESSION I SAID RINCONES UNCLES IS OSCAR DE LA FUENTE - IN FACT IT IS NOE GARZA - THE AUSA POINTED TO THE NAME ON THE BOARD AND THE TOP NAME WAS OSCAR DE LA FEUNTE - I DID NOT SEE THE OTHER NAMES

11:11 PM.

We are waiting on the judge on jury.  Villalobos may actually make it to the stand this afternoon.

We will start with a new witness when we return - Rincones has been dismissed

1:26 p.m.

Androphy takes Keith A Steves on Direct

Works for Office of the Inspector General for the DOJ

He investigated allegations by Oscar de la Fuente against certain assistant United States Attorneys AUSA

He met with Oscar De la Fuente [ODLF]   Oct 2012

He interviewed ODLF for about 2-3 hours.  Present was ODLF his attorney and AUSA Survic and Agent Gripka -

Discussing Barrera case -

Androphy wanted to treat the witness as hostile - Judge Hanen said no - not until you prove he is hostile.

Barrera was a case given to ODLF by AUSA Castro - at the time Castro was not an AUSA - he was jut getting rid of his practice

Barrera told ODLF that he had paid Meme Longoria to get the motion to revoke dismissed - the case was in Limas' court

Steves checking notes on Barrera case - Steves is asking if Androphy has notes he can review - he cannot find his interview with ODLF [all due respect to witness he should have been better prepared]

Steves cannot remember a bribe being remember - Steves is now looking at his interview with ODLF -

Notes show only payment was to Meme Longoria - no notation of bribe going to Limas - ODLF indicated he did not know if Castro knew anything about the bribe.

Androphy - did Steves draw any conclusions who had to be paid to get the case dismissed - Steves assumes it would have had to be Judge Limas.

Steves started the investigation in February 2012.  Steves does not know if Limas was cooperating at the time DOJ.  Steves agree that had he spoken with Limas he would have had a better understanding of what happened.

Steves discussed this with AUSA Castro - Castro denied knowledge of bribe

Steves is looking at his interview with AUSA Castro - "did you have any knowledge that Barrera paid Meme Longoria to get his motion to revoke denied?"  Castro said he did not know.

Androphy - ODLF made an allegation about a bribe.

After Castro said he did not know about the bribe Steves did nothing further on the Barrera case.

Aguilar:  - was Castro's relative by marriage - on a Motion to Revoke - the case was dismissed right after ODLF took  the case.  Steves asked Castro about this case.  Steves asked Castro if he was involved with a bribe to Judge Limas - no explanation - ODLF said there was a bribe.  Steves did nothing further.

[side note - this is typical IG conduct - I personally have no use for the IG's office - Like Castro will admit to anything]

Side Bar:  1:49 p.m.

Steves does not remember if ODLF said there was a bribe in the case.  After speaking with ODLF Steves asked Castro if he was involved with ODLF in paying a bribe to settle the case favorably - there was 6 months between ODLF and Castro interviews

Steves asked Castro about a bribe because of his prior relationship with ODLF - He never interviewed Limas

AUSA Esquivel - Steves did not speak with him.

Steves met with Agent Gripka during the investigation  - Gripka gave Steves 302 reports related to ODLF

Asking Steves if he remembers in the 302's AUSA Esquivel being mentioned.  Steves does not know why AUSA Esquivel is important.

Judge is explaining hearsay to the jury - but hearsay can be overcome if not used to prove as truthful - but just to show what a witness was told - the statement is not fact - what is fact is, is what is in the 302 -

Apparently AUSA Esquivel told ODLF to get his money because the case was going to be dismissed - even though the grand jury wanted to indict. ODLF was surprised the case was dismissed because the defendant was in the truck where the pot was being loaded.

Steves never investigated AUSA Esquivel - againt typical of the IG's office - Steves is unaware of any investigation against Esquivel.

2:04 p.m.

In the same 302 report - Did ODLF report any of his dealings with an AUSA Ponce - objection sustained -

Steves were you aware of Castro giving ODLF any information concerning bribery in the state system - he does not remember

Steves is still looking at Gripka 302 report done with ODLF  -

Steves not aware if AUSA discussed with ODLF the case of Meme Longoria

Steves read 302 to refresh his memory - from agent Gripka - in one report was there any remark about AUSA Ponce and Castro talking to ODLF about a bribery claim - Steves did use the reports in their investigation.

There is a non-top problem with objections on hearsay - there is side bar 2:15 p.m.

The 302 has Castro telling ODLF that he is not a target - he was in the clear - Steves never followed up.  Steves never asked Castro about this

Androphy is doing a great job in showing the IG for the DOJ did not really do his job - or maybe he did - Just to let you know - I am biased against the entire federal inspector general system - I have seen these type do nothing investigations and final reports too many times.

Steves interview with ODLF - Did ODLF ever talk about an unidentified case wherein the US Magistrate dismissed a case and Castro took no actions to appeal.

The IG was investigation claims by ODLF and AUSA Castro

- ODLF felt like Castro agreed with the judge according to Steves- IG's office never investigated it -

Steves was going through a list of serious complaints ODLF had against the federal government.  On the dismissal case not appealed - Castro said he never gave ODLF any preferential treatment and that on  this issue Castro  said ODLF was lying about preferential treatment

But in reality Castro could not even ID the case related to the claim

Steves "do you recall discussing a Cavasos" case - Steves does remember - ODLF discussed the issue - ODLF told Steves the case was originally referred as a felony case to DA - Castro asked ODLF to handle the case for him - the defendant a relative's wife - Castro wanted ODLF to speak with Villalobos - Villalobos knocked down a stabbing case to a misdemeanor with deferred adjudication.

Steves did discuss the case with Castro

2:29 p.m.

Castro says it was not true he asked ODLF to meet with Villalobos to negotiate a deal for a misdemeanor.

Steves spoke to no one else about this.

[HERE IS THE DEAL - IF THE IG'S DID NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING ODLF SAID, WHY SHOULD THIS JURY?]

DID ODLF ever represent to Steves about helping the Castro family - ODLF helped Castro's wife to get a job.  ODLF claimed he helped Mary Castro get a teaching position - Castro denied the allegation.

Steves contacted the superintendent of the school district about Mary Castro - the records show that in fact ODLF did recommend Mary Castro to super Ramon for employment - Castro denied asking - not that help was not given,

ODLF discussed 4-5 cases.  Each case involved a 5k - remember it is a reduction in a sentence for cooperation by the defendant - they also discussed safety valves - the crime does not involve certain crimes - it also means a sentencing reduction.

ODLF was claiming he got preferential treatment in these cases over the years.

Case one Solato case (sp)  ODLF allegation concerning sentencing reduction and preferential treatment he was getting - ODLF suggested he got preferential treatment for helpng Mary Castro to get a teaching job

Castro denied preferential treatment.

Miguel Garcia case 2: 45 p.m.

ODLF claims his client got both the 5k and safety valve

ODLF claimed no debrief by the defendant - which means cooperation with the government - Steves reviewed the  file  - Steves talked to AUSA Castro - Castro said -  - Steves needs to review the transcript - Castro said the file in fact did show a debrief - this is in conflict with with ODLF said

Juan Pinada case:  charged with possession and intent to distribute - - Pineda got a safety valve and lower sentence - Pineda got a written 5k -  the file shows Pineda debrief and gave up information on other individuals.

Rodriguez Flores case

[WHAT IS HAPPENING THE DOJ IS NOW ON TRIAL FOR THE SAME CLAIMS AGAINST VILLALOBOS - WHY IS ODLF CREDIBLE AGAINST VILLALOBOS BUT NOT AGAINST CASTRO]

ODLF felt like the 5k was questionable in this case.  The investigation revealed no special treatment - Castro acts comported with standard practices in the US Attorney's office in Brownsville.

When Castro interviewed Mathew Lux was also present - another DOJ IG -

Steves met with DOJ about when  to offer a 5k - Steves learned senior prosecutors have more discretion in offering 5k's than non senior - they are not closely monitored on the issue.

It was important for Steves to learn about this discretion to learn if

Side Bar on Hearsay 3:00 p.m.

bsed on the investigation did Castro act within his discretion. - Steves - yes

[note this is the defense - Villalobos acted within his  discretion - same thing]

Steves did not look into any other 5k's - reduced sentencing

We are in break 3: 10 pm.

Letty Garoria is observing the trial live

Mark Dowd - AUSA Steves also investigated based on ODLF statements 3:27 p.m.

According to Steves ODLF claims he got a speeding ticket dismissed for Dowd at the request of Castro - Steves - did a check through DPS - there was no evidence of a speeding ticket issued to Dowd in San Benito - Castro also denied the allegation

Rick Zayas has been released

August 1, 2012 - Steves interviewed Castro - Final decision on investigation of Castro - dated Dec 13, 2012 - IG DOJ could not substantiate any of ODLF's claims - this is odd because the school superintendent verified ODLF intervened to get  Mary Castro a job

Steves told the US Attorney he could not find any criminal misconduct by AUSA Castro on July 9, 2012.  He did not interview Castro until August 1, 2012.  Policy allows for this

Cross Examination by Wynne 3:36 p.m.

July 11, 2012 conclusion could not substantiate - Steves had to wait until Aug 1, 2012, to interview Castro because - as a department policy the AUSA cannot be interviewed until after criminal claims are denied - if a crime is then found the IG can go back and bring a criminal charge.

There is also the Office of Professional Responsibility - Steves has no idea what the Office of Professional Responsibility is doing about this.   Steves also pulled all emails related Castro and ODLF

As to Dowd one ticket was found but not the one as alleged by ODLF - ODLF did call the principal of the school to ask that Mary Castro be considered

ODLF also claimed to also have gotten tickets dismissed for a host of other people.

Castro never used the word lying in terms of ODLF

No allegation Esquivel or Ponce, of Dowd or Castro received money from ODLF for anything

Castro became a AUSA in 2002 - Castro referred cases to ODLF - this was necessary once Castro became a AUSA - ODLF took the Barrera case for $500 - the allegation is Barrera paid Meme Longoria not ODLF

Castro was unaware of any payments made -

2002-2012 - the investigation over 10 years - never spoke to Limas about money paid in 2002

The Aguilar case - ODLF only got $500 on the case - ODLF did not remember why the case was dismissed - there is not even an allegation of a bribe.

School Board Issue - Mary Castro wanted to return to teach 2nd grade - Allegation is ODLF contacted superintendent Ramon to consider Mary Castro

3:49 p.m.

Another case - did not hear it - but Castro is the one who offered the 5k and ODLF refused it because his client did not want to talk - so no preferential treatment at all.

Miguel Garcia - The client wanted to debrief - and he did debrief - then he got the 5k - this is not what ODLF said

AMAZING - AUSA WYNNE IS  destroying ODLF credibility to protect AUSA's - in a million years I never thought I would see AUSA impeach their own witness's credibility - they were trapped into this - can you smell the stench?

they are going back over all of the deals - the problem is Wynne is impeaching the credibility of his own key witness.  I am blown away in disbelief.

No evidence Castro knew ODLF was paying Villalobos

Did ODLF talk about a property forfeiture case - ODLF came along to a county barn with a Joe Lopez - when he got there he had received a call from Castro - Castro asked about an older model motorcycle.  ODLF refused to take the motorcycle - but Joe Lopez said the motorcycle could be changed to be shown to be part of the Villarreal case. (all alleged)

ODLF says Castro does not know and Castro says he does not know - about another case - I missed the name of the case

Back to the Mary Castro case - Castro told Steves - he does not recall the asking for help happening .

4:00 p.m.

Mary Castro's need for a job may have been learned accidentally by ODLF and he helped on his own - now AUSA Wynne is trying to recover ODLF credibility. Castro said it is possible Castro and ODLF could have run into each other and ODLF just acted on his own based on what he learned during this run in

Any evidence that ODLF and Castro met behind closed doors to discuss any of these cases. Steves - no

5k's are filed under seal and must be approved by the judge.  Castro was the courtroom lawyer versus Villalobos being the elected County and DA.

Wynne summing up allegations - Steves found no evidence of criminal misconduct.

Androphy back on Redirect 4:07 p.m.

Steves says ODLF was not truthful

Recross by Wynne

Wynne to Steves going over cases again - Wynne is getting Steves to agree ODLF did not necessarily lie.

What Wynne is doing is now showing just confusion or misunderstandings with ODLF claims -  this is contrary to what Wynne did above.

Androphy releases the witness 4:14 p.m.

Next witness - Gabby Garcia

Direct by Villalobos Counsel: Ashley Gargour

She is self employed attorney - criminal defense and family law -

U of H then Thurgood Marshall law school - she went to work for DA's office 2005 and 2007 -

She knew of the Livingston's case.  She met with the victim's family.  Rebecca RuBane was still in charge at the time.

It was towards the end of the day - Gabby was in the meeting with Villalobos and the family to help with translation - the family met for a status of the case plus an insurance issue for the husband

Ms. Garcia's understanding was the family did not want the husband to have the insurance money - the family - in particular the mother - the mother believed the father was involved in the murder and that therefore the father should not get the money -

At no times did Villalobos in this meeting refer the family to an attorney.

Cross By Survic

She was brought in to act as an interpreter - the mother of the victim and 2 sisters - (Mario Hernandez was not present (husband)

Witness dismissed

ARMANDO VILLALOBOS TOOK TAKES THE STAND 4: 25 p.m.

Norton Colvin on Direct:

Alexanders Jewelry owned by his grandparents.

The store now has two locations.

While in Austin and Dallas worked in the jewelry business.

Took the Bar Exam in 1993 - he practiced in Dallas off and on for about 4 years - until about 1998 when he moved back to the Valley -

Eddie Lucio and Armando Villalobos practiced together for a year and a half - Villalobos came back in 1995 and worked for Saenz and then decided he just wanted to come back in 1998.

As an ADA he started prosecuting drug cases. 

In 1998, he divorced at 29, and then remarried again at age 33.  He is currently separated - his wife was not from the Valley and she did not want to live here.

When first hired by DA's office he was assigned to the juvenile division - he was assigned to run the office - the goal is rehabilitative needs of the child balancing with the concerns of the victims- he spent 2 years in juvenile

In 2000, moved to felony court in Brownsville - 357th Judicial District Court - started out as first chair.

As an ADA Villalobos tried a multiple homicide case..

In summer of 2001, he left the DA's office again - he was not in agreement with Yolanda De Leon

4:37 p.m.

in 2003 he started a partnership practice with a Mr. Garcia - so he went as a sole practitioner - he felt Yolanda de Leon was not going a good job  - After judge Valdez in 2001 Villalobos was assigned to Limas' court

Villalobos says he and Limas clashed a lot - Villalobos claims Limas was very easy on defendants -

Villalobos says Limas did a lot of things outside the known rules - it was challenging to work in Limas' court

After Villalobos left DA's office - as a defense attorney - each court developed a contract public defender - Villalobos was hired by Judge Limas -

As a defense lawyer he got lots of experience because of the clashes with the ADA's office and Judge Limas -

Highway 100 divides the county - the southside - Brownsville is the powerhouse.

Villalobos had to win San Benito and win it big - Villalobos was a novice to politics

4:45 p.m.

Villalobos spoke with County Judge Hinojosa and Democratic Party Chair Michael Cowan. - also sought help from Oscar de la Fuente - ODLF was an expert on San Benito

Villalobos would see Oscar de la Fuente at work - ODLF father's business shared an alley with his family business.

1st election $150,000 to run the race - the 2nd part was $250,000  - both sides were buying ads daily - the Herald adds cost the most

The second run was against Peter Zavaletta - the first Yolanda De Leon.

Villalobos had no Republican opponent in either race.

In the last race Villalobos ran for Congress instead of DA.

Villalobos started January 1, 2005 - Villalobos saw it as a trial lawyer for administrator - Yolanda De Leon was more administrator.

A sub issue was meeting with the people involved in the cases.

Villalobos felt that there needed to be more access to the DA.

There was ambiguity and what you could receive on a case.  Low level offenses always have a story - the client could not get a second change.

Under Yolanda de Leon you have a First Chief - 

Villalobos made some major changes in the office - the organizational changes made -

Villalobos had two first assistants - one handled the courts and one handled administration the court side was called Chief First Assistant - the other side was the Executive First Assistant

there are 8 district courts, and 3 county court at laws, a juvenile court, and  child protective services.

He had team leaders  for certain courts.

if defense did not like a recommendation then the defense counsel was to go to the team leader and then to Chuck Mattingly

Villalobos is going over all of the changes he imposed after he took office .

The changes were good changes

Crime Victims were not handled very well - Villalobos went after grants to get more money for victim service.

The annual budget for the DA's office was about $6 million - all sources - Villalobos applied for every grant he could find.  Other sources for the DA's office - the asset forfeiture account also funds the DA's office. 

Cameron county competes for the funds with the federal government

5:10 p.m.

Livingston team was Mattingly, Rabb, and Korina Barrazas

There was a big case concerning the Mexican Mafia - Villalobos prosecuted 11 of there members - It was assumed from Willacy county.

The big case was Willie Padilla - the jury case him 50 years instead of life.

Another case - a woman was found guilty in a murder case but given probation.

Rubio case  two parents who beheaded their kids - the kids were moved to Edinburg

5:18 p.m.

break

Letty Garzoria has been feeding AUSA Wynne a bunch of information which he was taking down
.
We are back 5:32 p.m

PRETRIAL DIVERSION PROGRAM

Villalobos - this was a new program - he created a program for anyone who fit the category regardless of wealth

DA's job is not to necessarily to convict, but to do justice.

Deferred Adjudication was created to allow for doing the time without have a conviction - this was for probation.

A person would be placed on probation and once they completed it the charges would be dismissed.

Difference btwn pretrial diversion and Deferred - Pretrial was form driven

Criteria for Pretrial Diversion -  when Villalobos came to office nothing like this was written down.

The form was created for the court ADA's to be guided when a pretrial diversion is proper

Used a lot for people caught for the first time with a joint.

Pretrial Diversion protects some one's job -

Licensing agencies would ask if you have been on court order probation - this could cost them their jobs - this would happen in deferred adjudication cases

Villalobos says the young attorneys did not really understand all of this so Villalobos was needed to help on these cases.

[ths is fine - but was chuck mattingly not qualified to deal with these - age certainly was not an issue for Chuck]

Pretrial Diversion

First part if $500.00 fee. Before 2005 the statute did not allow the DA's office to do this.

Hot check fees also helped to raise money for the DA's office - but ATM's changed that and fees went down -

Villalobos got the law changed in 2007 to allow for the DA's to get the $500.00 - Sen Lucio Jr. and State Rep Eddie Lucio III got the change - it brought in about $300,000 a year to the DA's office

There is pressure on the DA's office to raise money  to help charities - Villalobos found out that they could not order a donation to charity - but they learned they could give the choice of a donation of community services.

Millions of dollars went to the charities during his 8 years in office.

5:50 p.m.

If an ineligible factor came up the case was to be bumped up to the team leader and  then Chuck Mattingly - Chuck would make people hold up signs admitting they committed a crime - so a lot of defense attorneys did not want to deal with Chuck because of his attitude.

Villalobos spent his day talking to lawyers all of the time. 

The process to talk to Villalobos was in place - attorneys would approach him when he was just out and about - he had no way of knowing the cases off the cuff.

He told lawyers to call his secretary to make an appointment and to provide identifying information about the defendant.  Sometimes it could take months for law enforcement to send a file over - especially during Spring Break

Joe Lopez was Villalobos investigator - someone would approach Villalobos and wanted to talk about a case - he would take the information and give it to Joe Lopez to check it out and see what needs to be done - sometimes Corina his secretary would make the call.

Corina dealt with mostly attorneys - Joe Lopez spoke to the people - he was mostly a street person

It was not just lawyers - it could be a victim - a family member of the victim.

Villalobos admits his door was closed - put it was a pocket door - and Mattingly would use his restroom - Corina would be in and our - sometimes he would have the ADA in his office to help

Villalobos hired some older attorneys - they had there own way of doing things - so they did things their own way -

Villalobos allowed defense attorneys to see the files - the files also included ADA notes - this was not good.

In the beginning there was no system in place where the files went - files would get lost - a tracking system was created.  Corina created once system

Villalobos created a notebook - this is where he kept his notes - then 2-3 months later the attorney would come back and this is where the notebook came in handy - it had his notes.

Villalobos was not always able to make a decision on the spot - there were a lot of cases where he needed to figure out what was going on in  the case.

Someone might be complaining about restitution - etc - in these events he would use his investigator Joe Lopez to find out what is going on - so

Sometimes a courtroom prosecutor would not be contacted on the problems -

Sometimes with little research Villalobos would stick with the courtroom ADA

 6:11 - getting close to stop - Judge Hanen is looking for a natural breaking point

Forms would be filled out wherein someone would say they are guilty.  The NCR program to prevent people from being fired - this meant nothing in the file saying guilty - To get on Pretrial Diversion the person had to agree to not seek expungment from the NCR file so  that if something came up years later the DA could see this person already got a break once.

6:15 p.m. we must be here by 8 - so we can work only until 4:30 tomorrow

Colvin is estimating Villalobos will go through lunch - DOJ is promising a short cross - all counsel are conferring on status of time to finish

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who is letty garzoria? And what is her connection to the usao's case?

BobbyWC said...

I have no idea - I highly doubt she is part of the - she ran against John Villarreal in the last election

bobby WC

BobbyWC said...

On the IG comment I agree with your total comment - had you stopped with the IG part I wold have posted it - you are right the difference between De la Fuente and Castro is - one involved payment of money - this clearly was made an issue by the DOJ - they brought the point home

On the other issue I am not discussing there was no evidence to support what you are saying

After the verdict I will be discussing a US Supreme case out of Texas which speaks to what you are saying - We all know if you give enough to any politicians campaign you get access - it is that simple -

Bobby WC