FOUR ARRESTED FOR ORGANIZED CRIME IN EDWARDS COUNTY TEXAS
On August 29, 2019, arrest warrants were executed concerning the misappropriation of funds at The City of Rocksprings Texas. After 6 months of investigation, Warrants were issued for Ex-Mayor Pauline Gonzales, Her husband Ramiro Gonzales Jr., Ramona Bienek, ex-City of Rocksprings Secretary, Investment Officer, and Daniel Garcia Public Works Director.
A complaint was filed with The Edwards County Sheriff’s Office on February 19, 2019 concerning a severe shortage of funds at the City. On that day the Sheriff’s Office began to investigate. Ex-Mayor, Pauline Gonzales resigned On Monday, February 11, 2019 and the resignation was effective on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. Sheriff Pamela Elliott assigned Darrell Volkmann to investigate the case but Sheriff Elliott stayed in touch throughout the whole investigation.
After interviewing several people and looking over transactions and invoices that left a “paper trail.” It was found that issues need to be addressed.
Several Search Warrants were executed at various residences and businesses and the findings supported the case for more investigation. The Search Warrants were executed on May 21, 2019.
Pauline Gonzales is charged with Official Oppression, a Class A Misdemeanor, Credit Card Abuse, a State Jail Felony, and Engaging in Organized Crime, a Felony of the Third Degree. Pauline Gonzales surrendered to The Edwards County Detention Center after discovering that Authorities were looking for her. Gonzales was released after posting Bonds totaling $41,000.00
Ramiro Gonzales Jr. is charged with Credit Card Abuse and Engaging in Organized Crime. Ramiro Gonzales Jr. surrendered to The Edwards County Detention Center after discovering that Authorities were looking for him. Ramiro Gonzales was released after posting Bonds totaling $35,000.00.
Romana Bienek is charged with Credit Card Abuse, Engaging in Organized Crime and Criminal Attempt to Commit Tampering with Government Documents, a Class A Misdemeanor. Bienek was arrested in San Angelo Texas and is free on Bonds totaling $41,000.00.
Daniel Garcia is charged with Credit Card Abuse, Engaging in Organized Crime and Theft (possession of stolen property) 2500.00 to 30,000.00 a State Jail Felony. Garcia was arrested in Rocksprings Texas and was booked into The Edwards County Sheriff’s Office. Garcia was released after posting Bonds totaling $51,000.00. The theft 2500.00-30000.00 was discovered incident to a search warrant that was executed at Garcia’s residence on May 21, 2019.
More arrest are anticipated including possibly more cases on two of the aforementioned individuals. We have to investigate further with a Forensic Accountant to determine where every penny went. We know how they did it but don’t know what happened to the money once it was done. We are sure that there is a paper trail that will determine where it went.
When Lawanda Goller took over as Mayor in January 2009, the City was in a Financial Crises then and there was an investigation then by a previous administration at The Edwards County Sheriff’s Office, but there were never any arrest made. Goller got the City back on its feet during her administration. Goller operated significantly in the black for all four years and increased the City’s capital. Presently she is acting Mayor and struggling to fix the problem.
Credit card abuse means: A person commits an offense if: with intent to obtain a benefit fraudulently, he presents or uses a credit card or debit card with knowledge that the card, whether or not expired, has not been issued to him and is not used with the effective consent of the cardholder.
Engaging in Organized Crime means: A person commits an offense if, with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination or as a member of a criminal street gang, the person commits or conspires to commit one or more of the following:
Sec. 32.31. CREDIT CARD OR DEBIT CARD ABUSE An offense under this section is a state jail felony
Theft means: (a) A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property. Appropriation of property is unlawful if: it is without the owner's effective consent; the property is stolen and the actor appropriates the property knowing it was stolen by another; a state jail felony if: the value of the property stolen is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000
Criminal Attempt to Tamper with Government Documents means: A person commits an offense if he: knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, a governmental record; makes, presents, or uses any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a genuine governmental record; intentionally destroys, conceals, removes, or otherwise impairs the verity, legibility, or availability of a governmental record. Criminal attempt is a Class A Misdemeanor.
Official Oppression means:
Sec. 39.03. OFFICIAL OPPRESSION. (a) A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he:
(1) intentionally subjects another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment, or lien that he knows is unlawful;
(2) intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing his conduct is unlawful
In early 2016, Then Mayor Pauline Gonzales was indicted on several charges including Abuse of Office, nepotism and Abuse of Official Capacity.
Then Mayor Pauline Gonzales was offered a plea bargain and plead guilty to one misdemeanor, bargaining out the Felonies and was advised to step down as Mayor and was given 6 months deferred adjudication on the Misdemeanor.
Pauline Gonzales stepped down as Mayor in 2016 but ran again in the City Election and won.
Ironically, there were many complaints of “stuffing the ballot boxes” and illegally voting. Romana Bienek was put in charge of the voting. Republican Chairperson, Kathy Walker filed a complaint with The Edwards County Sheriff’s Office stating that there were many discrepancies with the voting. The Investigation uncovered 18 criminal violations naming 8 individuals.
A recusal letter was written to Sheriff Pamela Elliott from Investigator Darrell Volkmann asking if Sheriff Elliott would write a recusal letter to County Attorney Allen Ray Moody (Misdemeanor jurisdiction) and Tonya Ahlschwede, District Attorney. Sheriff Elliott in turn, wrote the letter on June 12, 2017.
The case sat idle in the District Attorney’s office until Joseph Stinson, Criminal Investigations Division of The Texas Attorney General’s Office picked up the case from the District Attorney’s Office and took the case to The Texas Attorney General’s Office and handed it to the unit that handles the investigations for Voting Fraud. For some reason it still has not been addressed.
The case has been completed, ready for indictment since June 12, 2017. seat again in Rocksprings and failing to prosecute the No case has been ever presented to The Grand Jury.
After the smoke has cleared, The City of Rocksprings Texas is in a financial crises. The new City Leaders have inherited the task of rebuilding the Finances at City Hall. Not long ago there was a Certificate of deposit that was over $100,000 dollars and the City is presently operating at a minus -$31,000. After reviewing the minutes of City meetings it was determined that cashing the Certificate of Deposit was addressed, but was never approved by the City Council, at least it was never stated in the minutes that City Council approved it. The money is now gone.
These four people have played an important role in the “breaking the City of Rocksprings Texas, but there may be three more. The Edwards County Sheriff’s Office is still digging for more information.
There has been many attempts to get The County Judge, Souli Shanklin and Sheriff Pamela Elliott ousted from Office due to the fact that they are standing against the corruption and fighting it on a daily basis. Ex- Mayor Pauline Gonzales even asked The Attorney General’s Office Execute a Search Warrant at the Economic Development Committee Office claiming Judge Souli Shanklin was misappropriating finds. The City of Rocksprings handles that, not Judge Shanklin.
Then there was an investigation of Sheriff Elliott by the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers would not go forward with the case because it was found to be bogus, once again trying to remove The Sheriff and County Judge for fighting corruption.