El Paso Law Enforcement Conduct

When the Courts of Inquiry were first announced in 2004 the first thing the corruptors did was to create the illusion that those alleging police misconduct were “police haters”, “criminals” or had “monetary motives” for making the allegations. Many rejoiced when the system resulted in one criminal referral because in their mind it vindicated the police force and fed the notion that the Courts of Inquiry were wrong. For many the fact that the US judicial criminal system does not proclaim innocence was lost in them when they proclaimed the city’s police forces free of criminal activity.

Look closely at the time line below and notice how prior to the Courts of Inquiry there were many whispers of police misconduct and little, if any, prosecution and how that changed as the police forces’ underbelly started to be exposed after the threat of the community’s demand for police accountability increased after the Courts of Inquiry.

As you look at the timeline notice what names keep coming up over and over again. The dots will start to connect as you see each name coming up.

1983

On February 26; El Paso Deputy Sheriffs, Jim Beykin and Dwight Jefferson found a “powdery substance they thought was cocaine or heroin” in then, County Judge Pat O’Rourke’s car. El Paso Sheriff Mike Davis suspended Captain Willie Hill for three days for telling Beykin and Jefferson to “get rid of” the substance they found while installing a two-way radio in O’Rourke’s vehicle. No prosecution was conducted as there was not enough evidence to proceed according to then, First Assistant District Attorney Bill Moody and then, County Attorney Luther Jones.

1999

Carlos Leon, a 26-year police veteran is appointed El Paso Police Chief. On August 27: George DeAngelis met with a confidential informant and received information concerning illegal activity by El Paso Police Officer Luis Cortinas, who served as the personal administrative assistant to Leon. The allegation was that Luis Cortinas had allegedly provided vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers of narcotics officers to individuals associated with the drug trade.

On August 31: George DeAngelis delivered a memorandum to Carlos Leon requesting the removal of Luis Cortinas as administrative assistant and the opening of an investigation.

On September 1: Luis Cortinas was reassigned, although no investigation was started.

2000

On April 13: An investigation is launched against former Police Chief Carlos Leon by the city’s mayor, Carlos Ramirez looking into whether Carlos Leon allegedly instructed police to lie in official documents, not protecting the city against liability from police use of force and backdating a government document.

On June 26: Mayor Carlos Ramirez announces that a reprimand will be issued to former El Paso Chief Carlos Leon for improperly backdating a document.

2001

On February 5: Luis Maldonaldo alleged that he suffered a stroke on US54 and that responding El Paso Police officers sprayed him with OC and handcuffed although he told them he was having a medical emergency. EMS at the scene determined that he had suffered a medical emergency.

On March 5: El Paso Police officers Alberto Machorro and Jose Garcia are accused of misrepresenting facts in an Internal Affairs complaint.

On May 17: Nancy Hollebeke alleges she was sexually molested by El Paso Police Officers: Albert Machoro and Jose Garcia. The medical rape kit conducted at Sierra Medical Center that night indicates “alleged sexual assault victim exam consistent with perineal trauma.” Eighteen year-old, Hollebeke, an adult under the law is taken to the Children’s Advocacy Center where she is questioned by El Paso detective Bridgette Ballou. Court evidence shows that the chief of Rape and Child Abuse Unit of the District Attorney’s office; Penny Hamilton and George McBain, Commander of Crimes and Against Persons Division of the El Paso Police Department are present, unseen to Hollebeke. The questioning of Hollebeke ends at about 4:00 am on the next day.

July 1: Albert Machorro, father of El Paso Police officer Albert Machorro, begins to work in Jaime Esparza’s office as an investigator.

On August 4: A criminal investigation was started based on a Channel 26 KINT cameraman who videotaped an El Paso Police officer striking and kicking a handcuffed man according to a grand jury investigation. The officer allegedly involved was Marco Antonio. Also the same grand jury indicted PD officer James O’Conner for striking prisoner Jacob Paz while trying to restrain him to a chair.

On September 26: District Attorney Jaime Esparza declines the case filed by Nancy Hollebeke as “not credible”.

On August 16: El Paso police officer Jose Garcia stopped and issued a traffic violation to Nancy Hollebeke, mother of alleged rape victim Nancy Hollebeke (they have the same name), for an expired motor vehicle registration.

On September 15: According to a Court of Inquiry affidavit, Cecilio “Tony” Soto, husband of El Paso Police Officer Ana Soto alleges that he was arrested and prosecuted for assaulting Dean Kinder, President of the El Paso Police Officer’s Municipal League Association and a police officer. According to the account, there was a verbal confrontation initially between Diane, wife of Dean Kinder that escalated into Cecilio Soto alleging that Dean Kinder assaulted him. Soto alleges he and his wife filed an “informational” report at the West side police substation and that subsequently Lt. Whitten denied a report was ever filed and that Ana Soto, a police officer was incoherent and that Cecilio was uncooperative. Cecilio alleges that the El Paso Police Public Integrity Unit, then under the command of Carlos Leon investigated him, although he was not a public official. Soto was acquitted at a later court hearing.

September 28: Daryl Adams alleged that that after contacting EMS concerning his friend that El Paso Police officers allegedly assaulted him and a subsequent report to internal affairs was never investigated.

On December 29: Two individuals who were in an apartment where Norma Chavez was present were arrested by El Paso Police for “interfering with a public duty”.

2003

Carlos Leon retires from the Police Department.

On January 7: El Paso Police officers Albert Machorro and Jose Garcia file a complaint against Nancy Hollebeke for filing a False Report to a Peace Officer.

On January 28: Montwood students received permission from administrators to conduct a peaceful protest outside of the school the following day during second period to protest “block” teaching.

On January 29: Frank Lopez III, Mathew Braxton, Placido Hernandez, Victor Orta, Violeta Corral and Carlos Luna were arrested. Except for Mathew Braxton, who is a teacher at Montwood High School all of the others were students. Plaintiffs alleged that police officers David Amparan, Jesus Ayala, Noe Baeza, Roberto Baeza, Jr., Jorge Luis Chavez, Luis Cortez, Joseph Duarte, Robert Holguin, Jose Lopez, Vicente Macias, Ramon Antonio Mazza, Erik M. Messer, Adrian Nevarez, Ruben G. Olmos, Jaime Payan, Victor Perez, Mark A. Vallejo, Peter F. Pacillas and other police officers allegedly assaulted Montwood students during the block scheduling protests.

On February 17: The District Attorney’s office accepts the Filing a False Police Report to a Peace Officer and files a misdemeanor charge against Nancy Hollebeke.

On September 17: Romelia Enriquez alleges that her former husband, police officer Francisco Enriquez sexually assaulted her according to Court of Inquiry affidavit.

On November 7: Chenoa Hollebeke, sister of Nancy Hollebeke was killed in an unsolved pedestrian-traffic accident.

On December 17: Luis Aguilar, judge of the District Court 120 issues a Stay of Grand Jury proceeding ordering the District Attorney not to present the case against El Paso police officers Albert Machorro and Jose Garcia. At the same time, First Assistant District Attorney Marcos Lizarraga presents the case against officers Albert Machorro and Jose Garcia to a grand jury, notwithstanding the order not to.

On December 18: Jaime Esparza’s office notifies Romelia Enriquez that the grand jury did not find enough probable cause to have her ex-husband arrested for sexual assault.

2004

Carlos Leon goes to work for Bob Jones at NCED. He worked there until 2006. This is during the time that NCED and Bob Jones were in the middle of the corruption scandal that Bob Jones sits in jail today for.

On January 7: At approximately 1:30 pm, El Paso Police Officer and head of the El Paso Police Municipal Police Officers’ Association Chris McGill had a closed door meeting with Luis Aguilar, judge of District Court 120. Immediately after this meeting, Luis Aguilar cancels the hearing he had scheduled on December 17, 2003 where he issued a stay against the district attorney presenting the case against the police officers; Albert Machorro and Jose Garcia. The grand jury “no-billed” that case against the two officers shortly after this event.

On January 21: The first order to convene a Court of Inquiry to look into allegations against the El Paso Police Department and District Attorney Jaime Esparza is filed by Theresa Caballero and Stuart Leeds and signed by Judge Richard A. Roman.

On January 30: The first Court of Inquiry is convened.

On January 30: Billy Ray Nitsch alleges in a Court of Inquiry filing that he was arrested and was assaulted by El Paso Police Officers on January 30, 2004.

On February 12: A second Court of Inquiry request is filed by Romelia Enriquez who filed pro-se alleging that Jaime Esparza would not prosecute her ex-husband, a police officer at the time, for sexual assault.

On March 11: Dean M Kinder issues a press release from the El Paso Police Officers Association “to assure the citizens” that “they have the finest police department in the country, working tirelessly to make this the 2nd safest city in the nation”. The press release adds that the Association “strongly supports criminal prosecutions for any person who falsely accuses a police officer of miss-conduct [sic]”.

On March 12: Billy Ray Nitsch filed a third Court of Inquiry. Cecilio “Tony” Soto, Venerando Soltero and Jesus Luna also filed requests for Court of Inquiries. There were now seven open Courts of Inquiry.

On August 12: Luis Aguilar appears before the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to answer to charges levied against him.

December 8-10: The State Commission on Judicial Conduct issues a Public Reprimand to Luis Aguilar, of the 120th District Court. The public reprimand is the result of Luis Aguilar using terms such as “hot tamale”, “fat pig” and other more derogatory terms and gestures of a sexual nature about women, including female judges, prosecutors and others. The complaints were brought forth by Jo Ann Levison and Laura Franco Gregory.

2005

On January 13: Six people filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of El Paso, former police chief Carlos Leon and 18 police officers in regards to the Montwood Riots.

On January 30: Mark James Bittakis is arrested at the El Paso International Airport for being in possession of cocaine. Approximately nine days later Bittakis was released from jail after the Texas Department of Public Safety Laboratory confirmed what Bittakis had told the arresting officers that the two zip lock bags found by airport security were laundry detergent instead of the cocaine he was charged with.

On August 13: the six Montwood plaintiffs in the federal civil suit against the City of El Paso agree to a “Settlement Agreement”. The agreement included:

  1. Plaintiffs agree to accept $190,000 for medical and attorney’s fees.
  2. City of El Paso agrees to retain Jack Ryan for an amount not to exceed $25,000 for “consulting”. He will review “current training, policies and procedures and make written recommendations regarding; discipline of officers, use of force and de-escalation techniques for demonstration and First Amendment activity including use of O/C, ASPs and batons”. He will also look into “Protecting Frist Amendment rights”.
  3. The three parties: City of El Paso, Plaintiffs and SISD agree to a joint press release.
  4. All parties agree to mutual releases of each other.
  5. Plaintiffs will provide lien indemnifications.
  6. No one will communicate the settlement agreement until the City of El Paso and SISD Board of Trustees give final approval through their respective authorities.
  7. The agreement is subject to final approval by City of El Paso and SISD Board of Trustees.
  8. Defendants agree to consent to expunction of Plaintiff’s records of arrest related to the incident.

On December 7: Cecilio “Tony” Soto’s court of inquiry finds probably cause of conspiring to hide the truth about the fight resulting in the arrest of Dean and Diane Kinder by Sheriff’s deputies.

2006

Rickey and Paula Bell allege that their house was raided by El Paso Police searching for their son, who they had turned over to police a few days earlier.

In October: Jack Barrow, Jr. graduates as a police officer from the police academy.

2007

On July 17: Dean Kinder is indicted on aggravated perjury charges in state district court as a result of Cecilio “Tony” Soto’s court of inquiry.

2008

In March: Rickey and Paula Bell allege police misconduct and abuse before City Council.

In April: El Paso Police Department releases an internal report, conducted by the Chief’s office and Internal Investigations, to City Council concluding that there was no misconduct in the actions of the police department during the Rickey and Paula Bell incident.

In August: Rickey and Paula Bell file a federal suit against the City of El Paso alleging police misconduct where Paula Bell alleges she was made to stand naked while police searched the couple’s home looking for their son that was sitting in jail at the time because the Bell’s had turned him in a few days before.

2009

On August 27: Carlos Leon is involved in a motorcycle accident.

On October 31: El Paso Police Officer Mark Muñoz is alleged to have sexually assaulted an unconscious woman.

2010

Rickey and Paula Bell settle with the city for $55,000.

In February: Former El Paso Police officer Jack Barrow, Jr. becomes a reserve constable for Precinct 4. He leaves in October 2012, after the County eliminates reserve constables from the budget.

On August 23: El Paso Police Internal Affairs begins an investigation into abuse of overtime by police officers with TXDOT traffic enforcement grants.

On September 3: former El Paso Sheriff’s Detention Officer Derric Vidalez is arrested on suspicion of insurance fraud.

On October 7: El Paso Police Officer Mark Muñoz is indicted by a grand jury on a sexual assault charge against on unconscious woman.

On October 8: El Paso Police Officer Alberto Madrid is arrested after being accused of stealing a money box from a wedding he had been moonlighting as security.

On October 20: El Paso Police Officer Mark Muñoz is arrested on charges of sexual assault on an unconscious woman.

In December: Miguel Lucero is terminated from the police force for an alleged improper relationship with a student.

2011

On January 23: former El Paso Police officer Zake Rivera is arrested on an allegation of on-duty sexual assault against a woman he was interviewing in response to disturbance he had responded to.

On March 17: Miguel Lucero, former El Paso Police Officer, is arrested on a felony charge of an improper relationship between educator and student. He was jailed in lieu of a $10,000 bond.

On March 29: El Paso Police officer Robert Barragan is arrested for personal use quantity marihuana possession.

On June 24: The El Paso Police Department’s Crime Lab is placed on probation and prohibited from analyzing certain types of drugs because of questions about the competency of the analyst and the security of evidence.

On September 14: Police officer Jorge Arellano leaves the police department for unknown reasons.

On November 7: Police officer Charles Romo leaves the police department, also for unknown reasons.

On November 17: El Paso police Lt. Alfred Lowe retired from the police department. He had been placed on leave a month before during an investigation into $76,000 in overtime in 2011. The overtime was paid through a TXDOT grant for traffic enforcement.

On December 7: the District Attorney drops charges of molesting an unconscious woman against El Paso Police Officer Mark Muñoz for lack of evidence.

Also on December 7: former El Paso Police Officer Zake Rivera testified at his trial that he had “consensual” sex with a woman that he was interviewing during a domestic call he responded to while on duty.

On December 9: former El Paso Police Officer Zake Rivera is found not guilty by the jury.

2012

El Paso Municipal Police Officers’ Association PAC endorses Carlos Leon for County Commissioner District 1 and Luis Aguilar for District Judge.

On January 12: El Paso police officers Raul Ramirez and Ana Reza are indicted on two counts of tampering with a government record. The charges stem from the allegation that they submitted overtime reimbursement requests containing false information as to the times worked and number of traffic citations issued between 2009 through 2010 while working under the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program funded through a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grant.

On February 9: El Paso Police officer Luis Acosta is indicted on 18 counts and El Paso Police officer Joshua Paulson is indicted on two counts of tampering with government records.

On February 16: El Paso Police officer Francisco Enriquez is indicted on three counts of tampering with a government record with intent to defraud for allegedly falsifying police daily work reports regarding the issuance of traffic citations. It is unclear at this point if this Francisco Enriquez is the same officer named in the Romelia Enriquez Court of Inquiry.

On February 29: El Paso Police officer Ricardo Huante was placed on administrative leave pending results of an FBI investigation into alleged fraudulent medical billing. His house was searched by investigators.

On March 8: El Paso Police officer Daniel Flores resigns from the police department while under investigation by Internal Affairs. On March 8: El Paso Police officer Luis Ruiz is charged by a Grand Jury with 24 counts of tampering with a government record.

On March 13: El Paso Police officer Anthony Weathersbee is arrested for alleged theft of DVD movie and a flashlight from Walmart

On March 15: Anthony Weathersbee resigned from the El Paso Police Department.

On March 22: El Paso Police officer Jorge Arellano is charged with three counts of tampering with government records. El Paso Police officer Charles Romo is charged with 14 counts of tampering with government records.

On March 29: State grand jury indicts former El Paso Police officer Scott McFarland on 35 counts of falsifying public records.

On April 3: Former El Paso Police officer Scott McFarland was arrested and charged with 24 counts of falsifying time and location of traffic citations between April 2009 and August 2010

On April 12: El Paso Police officer Luis Ortiz is indicted on 11 counts of tampering with a government record.

On April 19: El Paso Police officers Edward Nicholas and Enrique Davila are indicted on multiple counts of tampering with a government record.

On April 26: Former El Paso Police officer Zake Rivera is indicted on charges of tampering with a government record.

On May 3: Former El Paso Police officer Ana Reza pleads guilty to altering public documents with intent to defraud. She was given deferred adjudication for 36 months and has given up her Texas police officer license for 30 years.

On May 3: El Paso Police officer Gabriel Castaneda is indicted on charges of tampering with government records.

On May 10: El Paso Police officer Michael Arzaga is indicted on tampering with government records with intent to defraud on a 15-count indictment.

In June El Paso Police officers Paul Bowden, Oscar Candelaria and David Jimenez were indicted on the traffic citations scandals.

On September 7: At about 8:40 pm, off-duty El Paso Police officer Alberto Machorro is involved in a minor traffic accident with Dee Margo. Machorro alleged that Dee Margo “deliberately struck his private vehicle and then fled the scene”. Officer D. Perea (Special Traffic Investigation Unit” declared the report unfounded after he learned of inconsistencies in the Machorro report.

In September: Alberto Machorro Sr., is approached by someone in the Joe Moody camp asking to speak to the son, police officer Alberto Machorro. This is according to a report by the internal investigators. On October 13: Daniel Borunda reports the Dee Margo accident in the El Paso Times.

On October 15: El Paso Police launches an internal investigation in regards to the minor traffic accident between police officer Alberto Machorro and Dee Margo.

2013

Former El Paso Police officer Jack Barrow Jr., is arrested for conspiracy of intent to distribute cocaine. This is part of the case involving 16 individuals arrested by DEA & FBI.

Alberto Machorro is given a five-day suspension for the Dee Margo traffic report.

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