FBI enters city of Alpine finance probe
By BRYON GARRISON
ALPINE – The FBI appears to have initiated an investigation into the finance issue at Alpine City Hall.
According to city council member Michael Castelli, “I spoke to Texas Ranger Jeff Vajdos this weekend and he told me about the FBI investigation. I said I had heard the rumors but I did not know it was true.”
The city council member added that Vajdos told him the city already has been served FBI subpoenas and that the city was providing the requested information.
In addition, Castelli said the Texas Ranger told him that an FBI forensic audit also is being conducted.
It was the city’s fiscal audit conducted earlier this year by the Skinner & Lara Certified Public Accounting firm of Alpine that revealed accounting and finance issues at the city of Alpine, leading to the firing of then-city manger Chuy Garcia and then-finance director Ricky Chavez.
District attorney Rod Ponton and his 83rd DA office, along with the Texas Rangers, then initiated an investigation that led to the arrest and indictment of Chavez. The indictment, issued by a Brewster County grand jury, accuses Chavez of knowingly falsifying documents to attain tuition reimbursement from the city when he was not actually attending Sul Ross State University. The indictment is a third degree felony charge. Chavez is free on bond awaiting trial.
Throughout the city finance issue, reports have surfaced that city workers are shredding documents.
When asked if it was wise to shred documents while an investigation was going on interim city manager Molly Taylor said, “If it’s junk we’re going to shred it. There are duplications. No official documents have been shredded. None.”
Despite her assertion she said she doesn’t have any restrictions on who shreds documents and isn’t monitoring what city workers are shredding. “Everyone knows that no official documents are to be shredded. I’m not going to stand over employees when they know they are not to shred any official documents.”
She added, “We are encouraged to recycle here because they (people) like to build houses from the shredded paper. Are we supposed to unplug the shredder?”
Council member Michael Davidson said yes. “Considering the current investigation, shredding of documents seems unwise. I suggest they get some boxes.”
When contacted last week, Michael Martinez, press contact for the local branch of the FBI would neither confirm nor deny an FBI probe at Alpine City Hall.
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