Patton Village mayor, other city officials indicted on criminal charges

February 25, 2012 4:53:06 AM PST
A small town scandal has a mayor, a city manager and several former and current police officers in jail. The arrests happened Friday afternoon in Patton Village.

City Hall closed early Friday because of the arrests. According to the indictment, the city officials used their official capactiy to access information, services and city funds; and it went all the way to the top.

With a population of just 1,500 people, not much happens in the city of Patton Village. So this is a really big deal.

Mayor Pamela Munoz was taken out in handcuffs Friday afternoon after a grand jury indictment. She now faces nine felonies and one misdemeanor charge, all based on allegations she misused city funds for her personal gain.

"They've been moving money around in a lot of different ways, and as you can see from our indictments, a lot of it has not been legal," said Mont Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Tyler Dunman.

Munoz wasn't the only official indicted Friday. A former city secretary, the court clerk, and two current as well as two former police officers now also face charges.

And for some longtime residents none of this is shocking.

"I'm glad to see it's finally happening," said resident Dennis Beagles.

"This city has always been in trouble. You say Patton Village and everybody cringes," said resident Mandy Moody.

The investigation started last October. Federal and state officials carted out computers and boxes of files. According to the indictment, Munoz misused tens of thousands of dollars, including allegations she used city sewer funds for herself, other city money for her own dumpster service and even took a loan out using three police cars as collateral.

On Friday, the mayor didn't respond to the allegations.

Two years ago she talked tough though, saying "If we have a dirty cop, I want him busted."

The city's police officers who were indicted ran illegal background checks, according to the court records. The other officials moved money around as needed; some of it was paid back, some wasn't.

Investigators say Mayor Munoz made many city decisions with or without approval. Her tenure could soon be up.

"I think Patton Village citizens really need to stand up and take a good hard look at their government and make sure that the people that they're putting in charge of their government here in Patton Village are looking out for their best interests," said Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant.

It is unclear who will now be in charge as the mayor remains in jail.

We went looking for answers from city council members -- two weren't home, one hung up on us, and another said she had no comment but supported the mayor.

The mayor is also accused of awarding contracts with no bids, and one contract went to her uncle.

More on the investigation from authorities

In late September 2011, the DA's Public Integrity Division says they received information concerning possible illegal activity on the part of City of Patton Village officials and employees. The DA's office and Texas Rangers executed a search warrant on the City of Patton Village on October 4, 2011. During the search warrant execution, computers, financial reports, payroll records, invoices, contracts, bank records, and other documents and reports were obtained.

Over the course of several months, with the assistance of the FBI, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Public Safety, investigators uncovered evidence that the grand jury determined amounted to probable cause and believed that various criminal offenses on the part of the Mayor Pamela Munoz, city employees and current and former police officers were committed. These offenses include abuse of official capacity, misuse of official information, misapplication of fiduciary property, securing execution of document by deception, and theft by a public servant. They range from second degree felonies to class B misdemeanors.

In total, seven individuals were indicted by the grand jury. Those individuals include Mayor Pamela Munoz, City Secretary Georgia Simons, Court Clerk Patricia Edmondson, and current and former police officers Kenneth McLin, Michael Seymour, William Martin, and Deangelo Lavergne. Additionally, as a result of this investigation, three other former police officers were charged with additional criminal offenses in surrounding counties. Many of these individuals were arrested on active warrants Friday afternoon.

The FBI, the Texas Rangers, the Department of Public Safety -- Regulatory Crimes Bureau, the United States Department of Agriculture -- Office of Inspector General and the DEA were also involved in the investigation.