Expenses for Constable Trevino's charity questioned

September 22, 2011 8:24:53 PM PDT
In a 13 Undercover exclusive, a top police commander caught on hidden camera revealing secret details about the charity being run out of a county building. 13 Undercover follows the cash.

He calls it a community charity, but Harris County Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino will not let us see the charity's bank records. We discovered that some of your donations were turned into cash. Who knows where it went after that.

Tyrone Berry is one of Victor Trevino's top commanders. He refused to talk to us, but we've got a surprise. He's now talking to our hidden camera.

"Right now, everything is focused on Wayne Dolcefino," Berry was heard saying on our hidden camera video.

The captain pulls double duty -- top police commander at Precinct 6, but also an officer of a charity called CARE, Constables Athletic Recreational Educational Events.

"It's a charity that was formed to serve the community and I think we have done so," Trevino said.

They sponsor Little League teams, help throw that big party for seniors every Christmas.

So why did we start to care? Anonymous letters complained Captain Berry was forcing his deputies to donate.

"Something not right...Please help" the letter said.

An email from one of his sergeants, quoting "the following deputies will donate..." Is that charity or coercion?

"You're telling deputies they will turn in money," we told Trevino.

"And I think again I've become lax," he replied.

Lax at making sure his chain of command understands.

"To make anyone feel compelled or forced to volunteer or to participate in a charity is not acceptable," Trevino said.

But on hidden camera, Berry says it was the constable who was the sole ruler of the charity. The captain says he's now resigned from CARE.

"I'm stepping down because I know something ain't right," Berry said on hidden camera.

2010 was a record year for CARE -- more than $91,000 in donations, tens of thousands from deputies and the business they are paid to protect on the east end. But where was all that money spent? That's the mystery.

"It's shocking, the lack of documentation here and the apparent pressure the county employees were put under to perform for this charitable organization," accountant Bob Martin said.

We showed accountant Bob Martin the charity's latest tax return.

"One of the most glaring errors is the fact they don't give the details for the expenses," Martin said.

You'd figure Victor Trevino would know since he signed the tax return under penalty of perjury. It lists a Precinct 6 employee named Mary Alice Williams as the charity treasurer. Just one problem. Here's her obituary. She's been dead for two years.

"Who was the treasurer?" we asked Trevino.

"I don't know," he replied.

He can't even tell us who was on the required board of directors.

"You were president," we told him.

"We're going over this again, the fact that I should have known," he said.

But listen to what the captain says when he doesn't know we're listening.

"Reluctantly, I signed blank checks because I was instructed to do so," Berry said on hidden camera.

"I don't remember asking Captain Berry for blank checks," Trevino said.

"If blank checks were signed, that individual may not have any idea how the money was used," Martin said.

Want a chance to play detective? These two checks both show they were signed by Captain Berry. Do they look the same to you?

"There's obviously differences in the signature," Trevino said.

"If he didn't give permission, it's a forgery," KTRK Joel Androphy said.

The constable wouldn't let us ask.

"I'm not ready to be able to ask him until I have all your information so I can do a complete review," Trevino said.

"I got this from you," we noted.

It's not just the funny signature that caught our trained investigative eye. It's where the checks were made out to, places like Sunrise and Handi Plus. They are convenience stores; just one check $1,800.

"You ain't buying chips and drinks. You're cashing checks," we said. "You've done it. You've asked others to do it."

"It's possible, yes," he said.

"Possible? Yes or no?" we pressed.

"Of course, yes," he replied.

But where did all the cash go after that? Trevino says it went to the community, but there are very few receipts.

"This is the first that you asked specific questions," Trevino said.

"That's the whole idea of an interview," we replied.

"I told the constable we kind of fell out about it. If he hadn't done nothing wrong, what's the concern about it?" Berry said on hidden camera.

And how many folks on the east side can boast they got an interest-free loan? Victor Trevino can. On Thursday, an antique car shifts our investigation in a new direction.


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