Now that Anthony Cobos and Lorenzo Aguilar have been sentenced to prison for their roles in the public corruption cases, leaving only Tony Dill to be sentenced, many in the community are beginning to think that the city’s public corruption is at an end. Unfortunately as much as the corruptors wish for this notion to remain in the community’s collective the fact is that there still remain whispers of public corruption within the ranks of the political elite. I believe the city’s corruption has not ended and remains firmly in place enabled by a dysfunctional news media and a political elite too comfortable at the public trough.
Consider the following.
During the Larry Medina sentencing there was a reference to other public corruption criminal offenses committed by Medina in concert with others at the city. City politicians are quick to point out that the corruption trials did not implicate city officials conveniently forgetting that Larry Medina was a city representative at the city and served at the city’s housing authority. During his sentencing, Larry Medina pleaded for leniency to which the judge admonished him for as of yet unidentified criminal activity at the city.
Larry Medina is now currently out of prison housed in a halfway house in El Paso awaiting his formal release. Although Larry Medina swore he would do everything he could to atone to the community for his criminality it is highly doubtful Larry has the willingness and much less the integrity to actually name names. It has been his life’s modus operandi to play it fast and loose and therefore his stint in jail is likely just a hiccup on his long road of criminality.
Unfortunately at this point it is unclear when the numerous sealed court documents involving the prosecution of public corruption in El Paso will be unsealed and therefore it is difficult to gauge how deep the investigation into public corruption ran at all levels of government. Likewise it is also difficult to study whether the investigations selectively targeted certain individuals while ignoring others as the political undercurrent insinuates.
What we do know is that Larry Medina was involved in other public corruption criminality that has yet to be exposed that, according to the judge’s admonitions to him, may implicate the city.
For his part, Sal Mena who was sentenced and incarcerated in December 2013 was also admonished by the judge to correct his behavior and provide the government information on other individuals in prison. Mena, who was placed on suicide watch by the judge during the sentencing, was told by Judge Montalvo that he still has “information that could benefit the government to put people in prison”. Who the individuals are is unknown at this point.
However we do know more people remain unindicted and unidentified. The question is whether these individuals’ are current office holders or those aspiring to get elected? As if that wasn’t enough, the criminals are still trying to game the system for their benefits.
During the sentencing of Anthony Cobos and Lorenzo Aguilar references to “substance abuse” was made in court. For the most part, the media missed the reason for the references and just mentioned it.
However, as you connect the dots, notice that much has been made of the fact that Lorenzo Garcia’s prison sentence was reduced due to a federal prison program that allows a reduction of time for participating in a drug rehabilitation program while in prison. As this became public all of a sudden you had two defendants suddenly proclaim a drug and alcohol problem.
Without access to the actual court transcripts it is difficult to know for certain if Aguilar and Cobos were trying to game the system. However we do know that Dolores Briones tried to game the process with her friend’s plea for money to help Briones.
As you can see, the corruption not only continues but there are strong indicators that more corruptors remain in position to continue to corrupt the city.
Now consider the fact that the local prosecutor not only continues to have to retry criminal cases due to incompetence as identified by higher courts but also that Jaime Esparza has yet to prosecute a successful public corruption case except for the Manny Barraza case where Barraza was not only hostile to Esparza but was also basically caught with his proverbial pants down.
Esparza’s inability to prosecute public corruption cases helps the corruptors remain in place. So the question is who benefits from Esparza’s continued inability to reign in public corruption in El Paso?
I have spent much time writing about public corruption in the city in its many forms. Others have for years alleged public corruption at many levels in the community. Some have even tied the drug cartels to the local police department that has spawned many officials into the dominating police force, the sheriff’s department. We have all been labeled “crazies”.
Yet, through all of that, the facts are that there are still corruptors in place as per court evidence that are yet to be identified. And now the electorate is about to make a decision as to who will govern the city without knowing if any of the political candidates are those who remain “unnamed” or behind sealed court documents.
More concisely, will the city ever truly know who the corruptors are? Sadly, probably not.