County employee gets humiliating sentence

July 9, 2010 3:44:12 PM PDT
A former Harris County employee admitted to stealing more than a quarter million dollars meant for crime victims. Then, during the punishment phase, she begged the judge to go easy on her, but the judge had other plans. Now Eloise Mireles and her husband are preparing to serve a long and unusual sentence.

Part of that sentence will be served at the intersection of Westheimer and Post Oak. Mireles and her husband will be forced to hold signs there every weekend declaring their crime in a very public way.

"While you are on community supervision, and listen closely because you are not going to enjoy this," Judge Kevin Fine said.

Daniel Mireles and a visibly shaky Eloise Mireles stood before Fine as he laid out their punishment. Eloise Mireles will serve 180 days in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility starting immediately. Both Eloise and Daniel will serve 180 days in Harris County Jail one month at a time for six years. Daniel starts serving his jail time immediately, while Eloise will start her sentence after her time at TDCJ.

The judge also ordered both of them to pay back more than $255,000 of stolen county money and complete community service. Daniel Mireles was sentenced to 400 hours of community service, and Eloise Mireles was given 600.

And they have to post a sign in front of their house that says, "The occupants of this residence, Daniel and Eloise Mireles, are convicted thieves."

Then came the kicker -- public humiliation. The pair must tote signs at the busiest intersection in Houston.

"'I am a thief. I stole $250,000 from a Harris County crime victims fund' signed Daniel Mireles. Yours will be signed Eloise Mireles," Fine ruled.

For five hours a day, every weekend for six years. In April, the couple pleaded guilty to stealing more than a quarter-million dollars from county funds meant for crime victims.

"I'm satisfied with what occurred," prosecutor Lee Cox said.

Cox says the public employee is getting what she deserves, and will be subject to random drive-bys in the Galleria area to make sure she isn't violating conditions of her sentence.

"I often go by there, and if I don't see them out there on a Saturday or Sunday, I'm gonna call," Cox said.

Defense Attorney Rudy Vazquez calls the punishment heavy, but admits it is better than prison.

"I think my client will gladly stand at that corner of the road and admit what he has done over and over and over again, if he's been allowed to stay out and continue to provide for his family," Vazquez said.

If Daniel or Eloise Mireles violate any condition of their sentence, they could be sent to prison for 10 years.


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