POSTED: Monday, April 14, 2014 - 3:57pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 7:08am
MCALLEN, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — Former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño is out on bond after he pleaded guilty to laundering drug money.
Treviño took the blame for accepting money from a suspected drug trafficker. The former sheriff faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Court documents say he took cash contributions for his 2012 reelection campaign from the infamous Tomas "El Gallo" Gonzalez.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement that Treviño took the El Gallo donations "directly and through others."
It was referring to Treviño's former chief of staff Pat Medina and his former commander Joe Padilla.
Medina pleaded guilty on Friday to helping Treviño hide donations by falsifying election documents. Padilla was arrested and charged last year with money laundering and conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
Treviño resigned as the sheriff at the end of March. He had been Hidalgo County Sheriff since 2005.
"All his good deeds over his number of years in law enforcement with the plea of guilty," Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra said. "That's his legacy."
Treviño's bond was set at $30,000 unsecured. That means he got out with just a signature and a promise to appear for his sentencing on July 17.
Treviño isn't the first person in his immediate family to be in law enforcement and be in trouble with the law. His son Jonathan Treviño is part of the notorious Panama Unit scandal.
It's suspected the Panama Unit took drugs from police investigations and sold them for personal profit.
Sentencing for Jonathan Trevino and the Panama Unit will happen at the end of this month at the McAllen Federal Court building; on the same floor where Lupe Treviño will be sentenced.
The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office released a statement on the Lupe Treviño guilty plea:
It is regrettable that former Sheriff Trevino’s legacy will be tainted forever.
It is disheartening to know that a man’s entire law enforcement career; everything positive that he accomplished is wiped away with a plea of Guilty.
In Law Enforcement more than any other profession, we are held to a higher standard. A standard based on trust. Trust that the people of this County depend upon to keep them safe from evils that lurk outside their doors and to be there to protect them in their most desperate hours.
The trust our community has in the Sheriff’s Office has been shaken to its very core. Story after story of misdealing and criminal acts has the community weary in their belief of what we stand for.
I will not make excuses for the former Sheriff, I cannot. I can tell you that your Sheriff’s Office is staffed with hard working, honest men and women that have been battling to regain the dignity they once had. We (Community Leaders, the honest hard working men and women of the Sheriff’s and I) will forge ahead with what we started; the long road to regain the public’s trust, to restore faith in our Sheriff’s Office and County and most importantly, the honor and integrity of the men and women of your Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.
Also, the U.S. Department of Justice release on the guilty plea:
McALLEN, Texas - Guadalupe Trevino, aka Lupe Trevino, 64, of McAllen, has entered a guilty plea a criminal information charging him with conspiracy to commit money laundering, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Trevino was the former sheriff of Hidalgo County.
The investigation revealed that during 2011 and 2012, Trevino received cash contributions for his election campaign from alleged drug trafficker, Tomas “El Gallo” Gonzalez. Today, Trevino admitted he accepted the money, knowing it was from illegal activities. He admitted he accepted the monies directly and through others as donations to assist with his 2012 election campaign. Some of the monies received were subsequently deposited into bank accounts Trevino controlled and were comingled with other funds.
During and after the transactions, Trevino and others acted to disguise and conceal the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the currency by filing false Candidate/Officeholder Campaign Finance Reports and producing other documents.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez, accepted the plea today and has set sentencing for July 17, 2014. At that time, Trevino faces up to 20 years in federal prison and $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.
On Friday, April 14, 2014, Trevino’s former chief of staff and campaign treasurer, Maria Patricia Medina, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, admitting she assisted Trevino in the concealment of the donations by falsifying election records. She faces up to three years in federal prison and a potential fine of $250,000.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration and Texas Department of Public Safety, Rangers Division. Assistant United States Attorneys James Sturgis and Anibal Alaniz prosecuted the case.