Fmr. Sheriff Lupe Treviño sentenced to five years


POSTED: Thursday, July 17, 2014 - 5:08pm

UPDATED: Friday, July 18, 2014 - 8:45am

Former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño is looking at five years in federal prison for money laundering charges.

Judge Micaela Alvarez on Thursday went above the suggested sentence of three to four years to, "Promote respect of the law." 

Treviño was originally supposed to get around four years, but the prosecution knocked a few months off of that as part of a plea deal. Treviño pleaded guilty to laundering campaign funds from notorious drug trafficker Tomas "El Gallo" Gonzalez. 

Treviño's lawyer tried to lower the sentence some more, claiming the former sheriff did not abuse his "position of trust." 

Alvarez disagreed in giving him the longer sentence, telling Treviño in court he's "contributing to the problem (of corruption) we have in this county."

"As professional police officers, and as candidates, we need to be careful with how we do things financially," La Joya Police Chief Geovani Hernandez said. "And of course, we need to be transparent."

Hernandez lost to Treviño in the 2012 election for sheriff. That's the same election in which Treviño took the ill-fated campaign donation. 

Treviño admitted to taking $25,000 from the drug trafficker Gonzalez. But his campaign reports only listed $10,000. Judge Alvarez questioned the discrepancy and Treviño had no answers. 

Treviño said in court he's embarrassed, ashamed, and remorseful for what he's done. He apologized in court to his family, saying the family name "will always be synonymous with what we did."

His son Jonathan Treviño is currently serving 17 years in federal prison for his role in a drug conspiracy; the infamous Panama Unit. 

The original whistleblower of the Panama Unit says the former sheriff's sentence was appropriate.

"Five years are five years," said Miguel Flores, now of the La Joya Police Department. "That's good enough for me. I don't wish any bad on anybody. Even though all that I suffered. He accepted his mistake."

The Elder Treviño will serve two years of supervised release after his prison term and will have to pay a $60,000 fine. He is out on bond until he is summoned by the prison bureau. An appeal of the sentence has already been filed. 

Treviño's former commander Jose Padilla has yet to be sentenced for his role in the scheme. 

Treviño's former chief of staff Maria Patricia Medina will be sentenced on Wednesday. 

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