HOUSTON (KTRK) --Former Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino will serve no jail time after pleading guilty in a public corruption case in which tens of thousands of dollars went missing from a charity he oversaw.
Zero jail time stands in stark contrast to many arrested by the former constable's own officers for crimes in which far less money was involved.
ABC-13 examined every case of people indicted on theft charges in Trevino's Precinct 6 since Nov. 16, 2012, the day Trevino was indicted. There are a total of 133 cases in which less than $1,500 was stolen in the East End.
Almost all of the 133 saw some jail or prison time. Many, unlike Trevino, had prior convictions. Others were charged with crimes in addition to theft, such as assault or drug possession.
But 12 people on this list who pleaded guilty did jail time and yet had no prior Harris County convictions, court records show. And all 12 cases are misdemeanors, unlike Trevino's who pleaded guilty to a single count of misapplication of fiduciary property, a felony.
"I pleaded guilty because I am guilty," Trevino said last week before 185th District Criminal Court Judge Susan Brown handed down his sentence: 10 years probation, 150 hours of community service, a small fine and a $30,200 donation to a state-approved charity. Brown wanted the donation made anonymously by Trevino so he couldn't get any credit for it.
Trevino's lawyer now objects to the charity payment and is fighting that part of the sentence.
Some of those 12 individuals with no priors who served time include:
- Jorge Tercero, who pleaded guilty to stealing four razors and a hair trimmer; he served 10 days.
- Shawn Tanner, who pleaded guilty to stealing three video games and a compact disk; he served three days.
- Auturo Brito, who pleaded guilty to stealing 2,435 pounds of grease; he also served three days.
- Dedrick Hankerson, who pleaded guilty for stealing a camera worth less than $500; he served 30 days.
Trevino has long denied he stole anything. The former constable blamed poor record keeping and his lack of oversight as the president of CARE, the charity he founded a few years after being elected constable in 1988, as the cause of nearly $200,000 in missing money.
During sentencing, district attorney fraud examiner George Jordan connected cashed CARE checks to deposits in Trevino's personal bank accounts that were closely timed to Trevino's casino junkets. Jordan's testimony also noted the lack of additions to the nonprofit's account in the weeks before and after certain fundraising events.
His analysis showed at least $178,550 in cash deposits to Trevino or his wife's personal accounts from 2008 to 2011.
"I believe the Constable personally benefited," prosecutor Bill Moore said after the sentencing. "I think he used this money to gamble and it went into his personal accounts."
Trevino attorney Chip Lewis disagreed that the his client's actions amounted to theft.
"Everyone's attempt to turn this into a theft is a bit (disingenuous)," Lewis said. "They charged it as a substantial risk of loss to the charity. They could have charged theft if they wanted to."
But to many ABC-13 spoke with in the East End and those coming out of Harris County jail, the charges look very similar.
Nathaniel Rivera was outside the jail last week waiting to pick up someone. He noted the contrast between Trevino's sentence and how others are punished.
"Different consequences for people lower on the totem pole," Rivera said.