March 2009 - Posts
El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Anna Pérez will testify today in Austin before the Texas Legislature in support of a bill that would give the County of El Paso the authority to create an "Ethics Commission" with the power to investigate complaints and assess civil penalties.
On February 23, 2009, El Paso County Commissioners approved the language for a proposed legislation that would create an Ethics Commission with the authority to receive confidential complaints, investigate those complaints, with subpoena power, and with the authority to assess civil fines and refer cases to the appropriate prosecuting attorney in case of criminal violation of the ethics code.
The proposal was filed by Representative Marisa Marquez as House Bill 2301 on March 3rd, and by Senator Eliot Shapleigh as Senate Bill 1368 on March 4th.
Today El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez and Precinct 1 Commissioner Anna Pérez will testify before the House Committee on County Affairs and the Senate Committee on International Relations & Trade in support of the corresponding bills.
Under the proposal, the Ethics Commission will regulate the conduct of County officials, County employees, vendors, lobbyist and others who do business with the County. The Commission will consist of 9-members: one appointed by each member of Commissioners Court, and 4 representatives "at large" from the public chosen by the appointed members.
El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez explained creating a County Ethics Commission "with teeth" became necessary after the FBI revealed that it had been conducting a public corruption investigation involving county elected officials, judges and employees.
"Tainted deals have cost our County millions, and it is costing us still more money, time and resources to try and recover some of that lost property," said County Attorney Rodríguez.
"The idea of an ethics code makes some people nervous, but most people realize that it is simply good policy to identify questionable behavior and put it out of bounds," Rodríguez concluded.
El Paso County Commissioner Anna Pérez said creating a County Ethics Commission "is an opportunity to be state leaders in sharing accountable government.
"We need to work on improving the public's trust in county government," Perez concluded.
The hearing of the Senate Committee on International Relations & Trade is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. (El Paso time) in room E1.016. To watch the live streaming of the hearing follow this link: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/ram/helix/ch6.ram
The hearing of the House Committee on County Affairs is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. (El Paso time) in room E2.016. To watch the live streaming of the hearing follow this link: http://www.house.state.tx.us/fx/av/live/extlivecmte36.ram
WHO: County Attorney José R. Rodríguez and County Commissioner Anna Pérez
WHAT: Testimony before the Texas Legislature in favor of the creation of the El Paso County Ethics Commission
WHEN: Monday March 23, 2009 at 12:30 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. El Paso time.
WHERE: State Capitol, Austin Texas.
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Ethics Commission Hearing Press Release.pdf
JRR Testimony for SB 1368.pdf
Exhibit A- Summary Ethics Legislation HB2301.pdf
La solicitud incluye 2 ‘zonas protegidas' y a 27 miembros de la pandilla Bloods
El Procurador del Condado de El Paso José R. Rodríguez y el Jefe de la Policía de El Paso Gregory Allen anunciaron hoy que ha sido archivada en corte una solicitud para obtener una nueva orden de restricción contra pandilleros que cometen crímenes en el Noreste de la ciudad.
La solicitud para la Orden de Restricción contra Pandillas fue presentada esta mañana en la Corte del Condado # 3. La solicitud crea 2 zonas protegidas en el noreste de El Paso, denominadas "Zona Protegida del Triángulo" y "Zona Protegida Patriota", y nombra a 27 miembros reconocidos de la pandilla "Bloods."
También esta mañana el Juez de la Corte del Condado # 3, Javier Álvarez emitió una Orden de Restricción Temporal contra los 27 miembros de la pandilla mencionados en la solicitud. La Orden de Restricción Temporal hace validas las restricciones contenidas en la solicitud por un periodo de 14 días, periodo después del cual se realizará una audiencia para determinar si se otorga una Orden de Restricción Permanente.
Si es aprobada de manera permanente, la nueva Orden de Restricción Contra Pandillas no solo aumentará las penas para los acusados que cometan crímenes dentro de las zonas protegidas, sino que también les prohibirá realizar otras actividades que pudieran considerarse "molestas" para el público, como por ejemplo:
- Reunirse con otros miembros de la pandilla en público
- Entrar a las propiedades o vehículos de otros miembros de la pandilla
- Entrar a las escuelas (a menos que exista una razón legitima)
- Poseer bebidas alcohólicas en la vía pública a cualquier hora
- Portar cualquier tipo de arma, incluyendo bats de beisball y clubs
- Pelear dentro de cualquier lugar dentro de la zona protegida
- Poseer pintura de aerosol, marcadores o navajas para marcar graffiti
- Acercarse o comunicarse con los tripulantes de un vehículo
- Molestar o amenazar a los residentes o los transeúntes
- Hacer demasiado ruido innecesariamente a cualquier hora del día o la noche
- Utilizar pagers, beepers o teléfonos celulares en la vía publica
- Avisar a otras personas sobre el arribo de agentes policíacos
- Ayudar a esconder a otros pandilleros de la policía
- Utilizar señales de pandilla en la vía pública
- Permanecer en la vía pública dentro de las zonas protegidas después de las 10 de la noche y hasta las 6 de la mañana
- Utilizar lenguaje obsceno en público
- Dar información falsa a los oficiales de la policía
La Zona Protegida de el Triángulo inicia en la intersección de Gateway North y Dyer, y está delimitada al oeste por Gateway North, al este por la calle Dyer, y al norte por la calle Hondo Pass.
La Zona Protegida Patriota está delimitada al sur por la calle Transmountain Drive, al oeste por la calle Gateway North, al este por la calle McCombs, y al norte por la calle Sean Haggerty.
De acuerdo con los archivos de la policía, los 27 miembros de la pandilla Bloods incluidos en la solicitud se asocian regularmente para cometer actos de delincuencia organizada, incluyendo asaltos agravados, robos, crímenes con armas, y transacciones de narcotráfico dentro de las zonas designadas. La pandilla de los Bloods son responsables de más de 100 delitos graves cometidos en el área en los últimos 4 años.
Para hacer esta Orden de Restricción Contra Pandillas una realidad, la Oficina del Procurador del Condado trabajo muy de cerca con el Departamento de Policía de El Paso por más de un año para recolectar la evidencia necesaria.
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Members of the Bloods Included in the NE Gang Injunction.pdf
Petition includes 2 "safety zones" and 27 members of the Bloods
El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez and El Paso Police Chief Gregory Allen today announced the filing of a new gang injunction to combat gang activities in the streets of Northeast El Paso.
The Petition for the new gang injunction was filed this morning and landed in the County Court at Law # 3. The request creates 2 safety zones in Northeast El Paso, the "Triangle Safety Zone" and the "Patriot Safety Zone," and names 27 known members of the Bloods street gang.
Also this morning, the County Court at Law # 3 Judge Javier Álvarez approved a Temporary Restraining Order against the 27 members of the Bloods named in the petition. The Temporary Restraining Order activates the restrictions contained in the application for a period of 14 days after which the Court will conduct a hearing to consider granting a Temporary Injunction.
If approved permanently, the new gang injunction will not only increase punishment for defendants who commit crimes within the safety zones, but also will forbid them from carrying out other activities considered a public nuisance, such as:
- Gathering with other gang members in public view
- Entering the home or vehicle of other member of the Bloods gang
- Entering a school (unless there is a legitimate reason)
- Possessing alcoholic beverages at any time, on public property
- Possessing any weapons, including baseball bats and clubs
- Fighting anywhere within the safety zones
- Possessing aerosol paint, markers, or razor blades used for tagging
- Approaching or communicating with occupants of vehicles
- Harassing residents or bystanders
- Making unnecessary loud noise at any time of the day or night
- Using pagers, beepers, cellular phones in any public place for any purpose
- Signaling to other persons to warn of the approach of law enforcement officers
- Harboring or concealing another gang member to evade law enforcement officers
- Using gang hand signs in public
- Doing any activity outdoors between 10 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in the safety zones
- Using abusive, profane or vulgar language in public place
- Giving false information to law enforcement officers
The "Triangle Safety Zone" starts at the intersection of Gateway North and Dyer and encompasses Gateway North on the West, Dyer on the east, and Hondo Pass on the north.
The "Patriot Safety Zone" encompasses Transmountain Drive on the South, Gateway North on the west, McCombs on the east, and Sean Haggerty on the north.
According to police records, the 27 members of the Bloods included in the petition regularly associate to commit organized criminal activity, including aggravated assaults, burglaries, robberies, weapon offenses, and drug related transactions in the designated areas. The Blood gang is responsible for over 100 criminal offenses in the last 4 years. in El Paso County.
To make this new gang injunction a reality, the County Attorney's Office worked closely together with the El Paso Police Department for more than a year to collect evidence against the 27 named defendants.
El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez explained the request for a new gang injunction was filed in response to resident's complaints about increased gang activity in the area.
"This new gang injunction should send a strong message that gang criminal activity will not be tolerated in our community. By curbing gang activity in the area we are trying not only to reduce crime the same way it happened a few years back in the Segundo Barrio when we filed the first gang injunction against the Barrio Azteca. We are also trying to protect minors from being sucked into gangs and starting a path towards crime or drug addiction," County Attorney José R. Rodríguez said.
El Paso Police Chief Gregory Allen explained that this new gang injunction will give his officers more legal tools to combat the proliferation of gangs in Northeast El Paso.
"This injunction will be a great tool to help my officers combat the gang and their influence and crimes in the community," El Paso Police Chief Allen said.
According to police records, the Bloods are just one of several street gangs committing crimes in Northeast El Paso. For that reason the County Attorney's Office is already working with the El Paso Police Department to gather evidence that will be used in the upcoming months to file petitions for additional gang injunctions against members of other gangs.
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Bloods Gang Injunction Press Release.pdf
Members of the Bloods Included in the NE Gang Injunction.pdf
NE Gang Injunction Maps.pdf
How gang injunctions work.pdf
2003 Injunction Results Chart.pdf
El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez announced today the sentencing of a local contractor accused of defrauding two El Paso residents.
38 year-old José Galván pled guilty this morning to 2 counts of Deceptive Business Practices at County Criminal Court #1. Judge Carlos Carrasco sentenced Galván to 300 days in jail.
According to one of the complaint affidavits, on September 2004 the defendant, doing business as "J & G Construction," received $37,000 to build an addition to a home in the Cielo Vista area. The victim complained that only one third of the work was completed.
The second complaint alleged that on January 2006 Galván, doing business as "Luxury Homes," received $126,000 to build a house in the Socorro area, but only completed half the work. The victim also claimed that a couple of months after she signed the contract, a local physician contacted her and told her that Galván had sold her house to him.
As of today, the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau does not have any complaints or negative information against José Galván or his two companies. The County Attorney's Office encourages consumers to always file complaints with the BBB when they believe that have been victimized, as these complaints provide a service to other potential customers in the community.
After the sentencing, County Attorney José R. Rodríguez warned consumers about the dangers of engaging in "advance fee" contracts.
"Consumers must be very cautious when it comes to giving builders money up front. Once the consumer has given money to the unscrupulous contractor, it is very difficult for us to get it back. This is why we recommend to the public to pay the complete amount of the contract only after the job is finished, and after corroborating the quality of the goods or services received," Rodríguez said.
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J & G Construction Press Release.pdf
During the last couple of months, the Family Violence Unit of the El Paso County Attorney's Office has been helping an increasing number of victims who have been threatened with being taken to Ciudad Juarez to be killed by their spouses.
The restless violence present in Ciudad Juarez, along with the chronicles of hundreds of femicides, has increased the impact of those threats on victims of domestic violence in El Paso.
With the objective of increasing awareness among the El Paso legal community about the link between the violence in Juarez and the cases of domestic violence in our community, El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez is hosting Dr. Kathleen Staudt in an effort to create a dialog amongst judges of the 34th Judicial District.
Kathleen (Kathy) Staudt, a professor of political science at UTEP with a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, will be talking about "Femicide-Borders as magnets for Violence: General Suggestions for legal institutions working with victims of family violence on the border."
The presentation is not open to the public, but interested members of the media may attend.
WHO: County Attorney's Family Violence Unit
WHAT: Presentation "Femicide-Borders as magnets for Violence"
WHEN: Friday February 27, 2006 at 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: El Paso County Courthouse, Room. 306
500 E. San Antonio
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Juarez Threats Press Release.pdf
Bill Now Goes Before the Texas Legislature for Discussion and Approval
By a 5-0 vote, the El Paso Commissioner's Court this morning approved proposed legislation to provide statutory authority and enhanced power to the current County Board of Ethics.
The proposal calls for the creation of a 9-member body to oversee compliance of the County's Ethics Code: one appointed by each member of Commissioner's Court, and 4 representatives from the public chosen by the appointed members.
If approved by the Texas Legislature, the proposed bill will authorize the El Paso Ethics Commission to assess civil and criminal penalties for violations of the ethics code. Some of the penalties contemplated in the proposed legislation include fines of up to $4,000 for violations, fines of up to $500 for County public servants (Elected County officials, County employees and agents), lobbyists and vendors who delay providing information to the Commission, and up to 3 months in jail for unauthorized destruction or release of confidential information.
During the meeting, El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodriguez explained the proposed legislation was necessary because currently county governments under Texas law do not have the power to enact ethics codes with civil or criminal sanctions.
"In the last few months we have heard criticism from El Paso residents who rightly point out that the current County Ethics Code does not have teeth. The current Board of Ethics can only issue "public censures" to individuals who violate the code, and that to residents is the equivalent of a slap on the wrist," County Attorney Rodriguez explained.
"With the approval of this item, El Paso County becomes a state leader in demanding ethical conduct from its public servants and the individuals who solicit business from them," Rodriguez concluded.
The proposed legislation now goes to members of the El Paso legislative delegation and will be filed in the Texas House and Senate in the next few days.
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Ethics Commission Proposal Press Release.pdf
Summary Ethics Legislation 2-18-09.pdf
County Ethics Commission Bill Draft 2-24-09.pdf