Will county attorney remove indicted Harris Co. Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino?

November 19, 2012 4:42:56 PM PST
Indicted Harris County Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino is refusing calls for him to step aside. But the county's watchdog, the elected county attorney, could try to force Trevino from office.

Trevino was indicted Friday after a more than year-long investigation prompted by a 13 Undercover series of reports.

Three days after his indictment, it was apparently business as usual for Constable Trevino. We still haven't heard from him, but we are hearing from your watchdog, the county attorney who first investigated complaints months ago but never shared their findings with voters -- not even now.

Precinct 6 deputies say Constable Trevino was at work Monday at his Precinct 6 headquarters. He has no plans to step aside while under indictment, but it's left his constituents not knowing what to believe.

"What happened with Victor Trevino?" asked Precinct 6 resident Liliana Guerra.

On Friday, a grand jury indicted Trevino on four felonies, alleging the veteran east side lawman deployed on-duty deputies for off-duty work and couldn't legally account for thousands in charity and campaign donations. Some of those same allegations were first reported by 13 Undercover more than a year ago and first investigated by the Harris County Attorney's Office.

Ted Oberg: Do you feel that you fulfilled that watchdog role on this case?
Terry O'Rourke, Asst. Harris Co. Attorney: Yes, I certainly do.

There may have been reason to speak up long ago. Internal notes show that the county attorney's own investigator thought, "a massive upgrade of management is needed," and that Trevino's office was "overcome with mediocrity," and that employees felt pressure to donate their time and money to keep their jobs.

That was nine months ago, long before Trevino faced voters for re-election and months before a grand jury even started its investigation.

Ted Oberg: You didn't have a duty to tell voters more of what you knew?
Terry O'Rourke: Yes, that's correct. I did not.
Oberg: And you still don't?
O'Rourke: That's correct.
Oberg: When will you?
O'Rourke: Well, I don't know.

The county attorney's office still hasn't made public their full report on the case. If they are going to try and remove Trevino, they have to move fast. The county attorney says they can only ask a judge to remove Trevino before his new term starts in January. After that, aside from a criminal conviction, Trevino gets a clean slate.

Resident Liliana Guerra: Me? I don't know what is the real truth.
Ted Oberg: So can he be the constable until they figure it out?
Guerra: Maybe.

If Trevino is convicted in the ongoing criminal case, he will be removed. Removal is a separate process, but the county attorney hasn't even decided yet to begin it.

This is the latest in a series of county employees indicted on felony charges in the past year.

You probably remember the scene outside FBI headquarters just hours after former Harris County Constable Jack Abercia was arrested back in January. Abercia was charged in a 13 count indictment that accused him of bribery and conspiracy.

Just days before Abercia's arrest, former Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole pled guilty to lying to investigators as part of a deal to avoid jail time. He was originally accused of accepting bribes.

All three of these indictments followed extensive 13 Undercover investigations. You can see those reports on abc13.com anytime by clicking on 13 Undercover tab on the left-hand side of the home page.

Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest on this story.

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