Monday, April 14, 2014

Former Texas Hidalgo County Sheriff Pleas Guilty For Money Laundering

Guadalupe "Lupe" Treviño and Maria Patricia Medina

Treviño facing up to 20 years in a federal prison for money laundering in widespread Hidalgo County law enforcement corruption case.

By H. Nelson Goodson
April 14, 2014

McAllen, Texas - On Monday, former Hidalgo County Sheriff Guadalupe "Lupe" Treviño, 65, pleaded guilty for money laundering totalling between $70,000 to $120,000 before U.S. Magistrate Micaela Alvarez. Treviño is facing up to 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. He later appeared before U.S. Magistrate Peter Ornsby who set a $30,000 unsecured bond for Treviño. Treviño was set free on a signature bond. 
Federal prosecutors are seeking a lighter sentence and fine when he gets sentenced on July 17 for cooperating in the investigation. The federal indictment claims an investigation between 2011 to 2012 revealed that Treviño received campaign contributions in 2012 from drug dealer Tomas "El Gallo" Reyes González. Treviño who resigned last month as a result of the federal investigation confessed that he knew the money came from González.
On Friday, Maria Patricia Medina, 40, Treviño's chief of staff and campaign treasurer pleaded guilty for helping to launder money, falsifying campaign contributions in Treviño's 2012 re-election bid records and failing to report González cash contribution of $5,000 to authorities. Medina also resigned last month. She is facing up to three years in prison and $250,000 in fines. She remains free on a signature bond of $30,000. Medina will be sentenced on July 3.
The widespread Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office corruption case also involved Treviño's son, Jonathan Christian Treviño, 30, a former Mission Police Department Officer, five sheriff Hidalgo deputies and five other law enforcement members of the Sheriff's drug task force unit known as Panama. A federal lawsuit filed by Jose and Maria Perez in federal court claims that six members of the Panama unit conducted an illegal search in 2012 of their home to confiscate drugs. No drugs were ever found by the drug task force unit, but the couple and two other victims discovered that thousands of dollars of jewelry and perfumes were missing from their homes. In the lawsuit both former Hidalgo Sheriff Treviño and former Mission Police Chief Martin Garza who is now the city's manager were named.
Along with Jonathan's indictment, also Alexis Rigoberto Espinoza, the son of the Hidalgo police chief; Fabian Rodriguez; Gerardo Mendoza Duran; Alvaro Gilberto de Hoyos; Salvador Joel Arguello; Claudio Alberto Matos and Eric Michael Alcantar conspired with both drug trafficers Fernando Guerra, Sr.and Fernando Guerra, Jr. to steal drugs from rival drug dealers, than redistribute and sell the drugs for profit.
Also indicted were, sheriff's Crime Stoppers program head James Phil Flores, deputy Jorge Garza, 47, and investigator Aida Palacios who worked for the district attorney's office. Jonathan and the others were convicted for conspiring with drug dealers to steal drug loads of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines from rival competitors, then selling them and splitting the profits between January 2009 to December 2012. They are expected to be sentenced in April 29.
In a separate case, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Jose "Joe" Padilla, Treviño's second-in-command in the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office last December for a drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Padilla allegedly provided protection for González. 
Treviño's political foe, Republican challenger Robert Caples has filed a lawsuit against Treviño claiming that he violated campaign contribution laws by accepting more than allowed and receiving a campaign contribution from a known drug trafficker. Caples ran against Treviño, but was defeated.
The Hidalgo County Commissioner Court appointed Precint 4 Constable J.E. "Eddie" Guerra, 52, to head the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office until an election is held to elect a sheriff. 

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