Two city hall workers reach plea in scandal

March 28, 2008 3:12:22 PM PDT
Two of the four people charged in the city hall bonus scandal reached a plea deal with prosecutors today, while the other two accused were cleared of all charges.Four people total were accused taking unauthorized bonuses while working for former City Councilwoman Carol Alvarado. The four employees were fired in 2006. Alvarado, the former mayor pro tem, who was not charged.

Three of the four people named in the criminal case were in court waiting to find out what was going to happen in each of their cases. Florence Watkins, Rosita Hernandez, Christopher Mays and Theresa Orta were all accused of taking unauthorized bonuses and raises totaling at least $200,000 while working at city hall.

The judge accepted the plea from Watkins' of no contest. She is charged with theft by public servant. She received 350 hours of community service and restitution between $60,000 and $70,000. She will also have to apologize to Carol Alvarado and the city of Houston and be on probation for 10 years.

Watkins took the stand to make a statement and said Mays and Orta did not know the money was unauthorized.

Hernandez's plea of no contest was also accepted. She received restitution over $77,000 and the money that is frozen in an account will be given to the city of Houston. She also received 10 years probation and will have to issue a letter of apology to Carol Alvarado and the city of Houston.

Hernandez stated in sworn statement that Orta and Mays did not know the raises and bonus were approved and they didn't know it was scheme. She said she and Watkins did not tell them it was unauthorized.

Mays and Orta are free and the charges were dropped.

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