Texas Rangers launch new investigation into bid-rigging scandal within Judge Lina Hidalgo's Office

Jessica Willey Image
Friday, November 10, 2023
New investigation into bid-rigging case involving Hidalgo's ex-staff
A new investigation has been launched into Judge Lina Hidalgo's Office relating to a bid-rigging scandal that led to charges against three former staffers.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas Rangers have begun a new investigation into tampering and misuse of official information within Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's Office, according to court records filed Thursday related to the so-called bid-rigging scandal of 2021.

That scandal centered around a now-canceled $11 million COVID-19 vaccine outreach contract awarded to Elevate Strategies, a one-woman firm with little experience.

Three of Hidalgo's former staffers, Wallis Nader, Aaron Dunn and Alex Triantaphyllis, face tampering and misuse of official information charges.

RELATED: Harris Co. judge's senior staff indicted on misuse allegations in $11M contract investigation

In the five search warrants and accompanying affidavits filed with the Harris County District Clerk's Office Thursday, there is a recurring theme that Hidalgo's office withheld documents.

The search warrants, served to providers for the staffers' Google, cell phone and WhatsApp accounts, show the communications Hidalgo's office provided in response to a grand jury subpoena were not all the records that existed.

Citing emails, the Texas Ranger investigator wrote, "The Harris County Judge's Office was in possession of drafts of documents; however these drafts were not provided to the Harris County District Attorney's Office in the Harris County Judge's Office's Grand Jury production."

SEE ALSO: Harris County DA fires back against attorneys in Hidalgo staffers' case

The investigator compared the communications Felicity Pereya of Elevate Strategies turned over to the Grand Jury to what the Judge's Office produced and found they did not match, records state.

One search warrant affidavit included text messages that the judge's office allegedly withheld and when reviewing WhatsApp messages, the investigator wrote, "The judge's office did not turn over relevant drafts and communications."

Records state he also found, "indications that the evidence had been concealed."

Hidalgo's office did not respond to an ABC13 request for comment, but in August of 2021, Hidalgo said, "Bring it on because there is nothing here," during a Harris County Commissioner's Court meeting.

Only the three staffers have been charged.

Thursday evening, a spokesperson with the Harris County District Attorney's Office told ABC13, "The documents speak for themselves."

13 Investigates: New docs reveal county investigation spreading, Rangers turn to Google for more

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