What happened to eastside constable charity?

April 3, 2012 3:24:06 AM PDT
We have major developments in our 13 Undercover constable investigation. The beleaguered charity founded by Harris County Pct. 6 Constable Victor Trevino is closing down months after 13 Undercover first questioned where the donated money went.

The Trevino case could end up in a grand jury any day now, but County Attorney Vince Ryan also promised a full investigation. He's the county's ethics watchdog, but now, he won't let you see what his office has done or hasn't done.

It was July 2011. This was damage control.

"It's always been my intent to continue to serve the community, as we've done and we've done a great job," Constable Trevino said.

The charity Constable Trevino had founded was in trouble. It had been operating out of the county's East End courthouse for years, often using on-duty county employees.

Under state law, the public had a right to see the records but the constable was resisting.

"Let's make a deal," we told Trevino.

"I'm not here to make a deal," he replied.

"OK well fine, here's what I want. How about that?" we said.

"I'm not here also just to give you what you want," he replied.

We've never gotten all the financial records, and we've been asking for months.

But we can tell you that some of the CARE money had been spent on East End Little League teams and senior parties. But when we investigated closer, we found a lot of the money was traced back to convenience stores.

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

"Yes, that's possible, yes," he replied.

"Possible? Yes or no?" we asked.

"Of course, yes," he said.

Large charity checks turned into cash.

"It could be that this money was used for personal benefit to someone. We have no way to trace it back," accountant Bob Martin said. "This is totally unsatisfactory, the way they've done this."

Thousands of dollars donated from the community, and there were virtually no receipts to tell us what happened to all that money.

"All that has an aura of misusing money that should be going for legitimate charitable purposes," KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy said.

When 13 Undercover brought it all to light last summer, the constable promised big changes; a new charity board, a thorough review.

"This is part of our review," Trevino told us then.

"What is?" we asked.

"All the documents that have to do with CARE that you've requested," he said.

But now we know that review never happened, and CARE's new president now says the charity is finished.

"Under advisement of counsel," he told us, "we as a board have voted to dissolve CARE and have resigned as a board."

"Reluctantly, I signed blank checks because I was instructed to do so," Pct. 6 Captain Tyrone Berry said on hidden camera.

Remember we caught Pct. 6 Captain Tyrone Berry on our hidden camera complaining about the way CARE checks were written, and he was the treasurer.

"I am stepping down because I know something ain't right," Berry said.

But this February, a Precinct 6 deputy told us he got a solicitation letter from CARE. And look who it's from -- Captain Berry, with a phone number to call, still using a county phone number we see.

And get this, Captain Berry says that letter is a fake.

"I've admitted that the records -- you said it -- are sloppy. OK, I've admitted that," Trevino told us.

So proving where the cash ended up may be interesting.

"I think that the complete review, if you're looking at CARE, it's pretty lengthy," Trevino said.

So tracing all the cash may be impossible.

The constable took this antique car donated to the charity and got a $10,000 loan. Bank records show the money never went into CARE's bank account. It was spent as cash: $6,500 cash for toys supposedly and senior events -- no receipts -- and $3,500 more to pay overdue bills for rodeo tickets. The constable can't name a single East End resident who got one.

Through his lawyer, the constable tells us it's the county attorney whose kept him from disciplining his commanders.

You can see all the latest developments on our 13 Undercover interactive.


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