Ex-Fire Chief’s Home Raided, Arrested Amid Illegal EMS Operation

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Escorted by his attorney, Carlos Elizondo surrendered to Cameron County District Attorney Investigators hours after his Brownsville home was raided. The former Brownsville Fire Chief is charged with theft by a public servant and misapplication of fiduciary property, both third-degree felonies. The misapplication charge is when “a person commits an offense if he/she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly misapplies property he/she holds as a fiduciary or property of a financial institution in a manner that involves substantial risk of loss to the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property is held.”

The arrest and search warrant are presumably linked to his alleged involvement with the illegal operation of, Intercity, a private ambulance company transporting non-emergency patients. KVEO News Center 23 has reported extensively on an audit report conducted by City Commissioners and the findings are part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Brownsville Police denied our request for the non-emergency calls but said in a statement “the information you are requesting pertains to an ongoing joint criminal investigation between Brownsville PD and District Attorney’s office, and it is not subject to disclosure.” 

According to the report, calls were rerouted to the private company by deputy fire chief Ernesto Estrada and Elizondo. Following the money, after January 3, 2017 most calls had an $800 fee, which according to the report was diverted from the City’s coffers to the private company totaling $62,400.  

City manager Charlie Cabler was aware of the operation, the day after Christmas and allowed it to happen until at least into June of this year. It wasn’t until September 7, 2017, when Cabler, demoted Elizondo from chief to lieutenant.

According the report, Elizondo said, Intercity’s operations were authorized by Cabler and former city attorney Mark Sossi. However, Sossi denied any knowledge.

Cabler’s name has been at the center of controversy since a leaked audio recording surfaced online. Commissioner Cesar De Leon and former Brownsville Fire Chief Carlos Elizondo’s private conversation was posted online via an anonymous website but the nature of the conversation made national headlines. De Leon is head using racist language aimed at black Cameron County District Attorneys. De Leon said the recording was released as a relation for Elizondo being demoted to lieutenant. However, an audit report conducted by the newly formed City Commissioners Audit Committee uncovered more than 70 non-emergency calls were diverted to a private company by Elizondo and Deputy Chief Ernesto Estrada. The report also confirmed, Cabler demoted Elizondo 6 months after the calls had been diverted and allowed the illegal operation to occur.  

Cabler’s retirement letter obtained by News Center 23, indirectly addresses the controversy of the tapes and his alleged involvement in the EMS operations, “I am deeply concerned that my continued presence will serve to further distract our noble commission form securing a full and transparent audit into the issues.” 

Cabler wrote “I am respectfully requesting due compensation immediately in accordance with my employment contract.” (News Center 23 has requested a copy of his contact.)

The two page retirement letter highlights his career accolades with the Brownsville Police Department, volunteerism and commitment to family. “I have come to this decision in order to encourage our City Commission to move past these recent issues as quickly as possible.” wrote Cabler. The letter is closed with “I wish each of you and the City of Brownsville a prosperous future. Sincerly, Charlie Cabler”   

Tuesday, October 17th, City Commissioners will formally accept Cabler’s resignation. 

The District Attorney’s Office requested Carlos Elizondo’s bonds be set at $30,000 for each charge, but Associate Judge Sorolla denied the District Attorney’s request and set the bonds at $8,500 for each charge.

Full EMS Audit Report Click Here

Cabler’s Retirement Letter Click Here

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