Some of you may be aware that David Crowder has been reporting on the case of Emily Garcia, the former El Paso Boys and Girls Club executive director who is currently in jail. What initially caught my attention about the case was that David Crowder asked Luis Aguilar about the status of the case shortly before the election. According to Crowder’s reporting, Luis Aguilar was unaware about Emily Garcia’s community service and restitution status. Because it involved Luis Aguilar, whom I have stated previously should not be a judge, and because the El Paso Inc., a business weekly, was spending an inordinate amount of time on this I started researching the case.
As I delved further into the case, I noticed some issues that I believe merit pointing out.
In 2010, Emily Garcia was charged with misappropriation of fiduciary property. Garcia had previously resigned as the executive director of the El Paso Boys and Girls Club after the Texas Attorney General’s Office had criticized how the organization was handling funds. Garcia had been accused of misusing the agency’s credit card to make personal purchases. Emily Garcia was also known as Garcia-Heaton.
In June 2013, Emily Garcia pleaded guilty to misappropriating more than $200,000 from the agency she had been directing. She accepted deferred adjudication with 10 years of probation, $100,000 in restitution and 200 hours of community service.
According to David Crowder’s report of March 19, 2014, the case dragged on for eight years before it finally reached a judiciary conclusion in 2013. Prior to that, in 2005, the United Way had frozen funds awarded to the Boys and Girls Club and questions were raised about Emily Garcia’s friendship with the executive director of United Way at the time. Later on Garcia resigned amid the controversy. I wish that was the only issue about the case, however as you read on there are many more issues with this case, that unfortunately defines El Paso’s legal and political community.
The first thing I noticed about Crowder’s reports was that Luis Aguilar took a very personal approach to this specific case soon after he had won reelection. It seemed to me that David Crowder’s initial question about Emily Garcia’s case caught Aguilar completely off-guard and he reacted by demanding answers. You all know that I do not feel that Luis Aguilar is qualified to be a judge and for the life of me, I do not understand how the El Paso electorate reelects him. However, in this case, it is proper that Luis Aguilar demanded answers from the three players in this ongoing saga: Emily Garcia, the probation department and Jaime Esparza’s office.
Unfortunately Aguilar will continue to be Aguilar and as such his inquisition has now denigrated into a circus where the semblance of equality under the law, fairness in the judiciary and punishing the right people have been put aside to feed his necessity to grandstand.
Do not misunderstand me; Emily Garcia deserves prison time for what she has pleaded guilty to, however she is currently in prison for the ineptitude of the legal system and Aguilar’s ego. Let me explain.
First, and foremost I do not believe in how the system of adjudication is applied in the cases that I am aware of. The notion that someone can commit a crime and then have it erased from their record following certain terms and conditions imposed by the court, in my opinion, is just another extension of the notion that individuals are not held accountable for their actions.
Adjudicating a criminal’s case from the system only teaches them they can get away with a crime when they hire the right lawyers, and apparently know the right people.
I understand the notion of allowing individuals the ability to rehabilitate their lives after a lapse of judgment as we all make mistakes. The legal system offers an opportunity to those that have grown from the experience the ability to expunge their records after paying their debt to society. It may be difficult but ultimately their crimes had victims also that do not have the opportunity to “erase” the pain and suffering they were subjected to by the criminal.
Emily Garcia pleaded guilty to stealing money from the Boys and Girls Club and after a lengthy time of judiciary incompetence she was finally granted an opportunity to not only avoid jail time but also the opportunity to pretend she is not a criminal.
As I researched her case, I immediately noticed how her name and picture kept coming up in the hoity-toity get-togethers of the highfalutin El Pasoans that have left their marks in the high numbers of public corruption cases and taxpayer-funded swindles that I routinely share with you.
Center stage are the Google search results of her image at events that centered on the El Paso Chamber of Commerce. This is the same entity that proclaimed Bob Jones the entrepreneur of the year at one time. While pretending to be a noncriminal many highfalutin El Pasoans happily took pictures with Emily Garcia. Mica Short, formerly of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce and now with Texas Gas is one of many recent examples happily smiling for the cameras with Garcia.
It seems like El Paso’s highfalutin love to award criminals accolades while hanging out with them at the award ceremonies.
I believe that it was at one of these functions that her story was brought to the attention David Crowder as some probably asked themselves how could, it be she is out prancing around town when she should be in jail. I assume this because the business weekly does not normally cover these types of stories and the first appearance of her shenanigans first appeared as Luis Aguilar was running for office.
According to Crowder’s report, the Boys and Girls Club has not seen any money from Emily Garcia’s restitution. When Aguilar asked the probation department, no one seemed to know what was going on. The Boys and Girls Club didn’t know that their former executive director had pleaded guilty and that Jaime Esparza’s office hadn’t been able to get information from the adult probation department about the case.
Everyone kept pointing fingers and no one knew what was what. It’s as if everyone collectively was sighing why are they bringing this up now. In his March 2, 2014 report, David Crowder writes that as far as everyone knew, Emily Garcia had only paid $50 towards the restitution she was required to pay.
In his March 19 report, Crowder wrote that Gabriel Garcia, Emily Garcia’s probation officer, reported to Luis Aguilar at a court hearing that Garcia had not performed any of her community service and that she had only paid $50 towards restitution. At the end of the hearing, Luis Aguilar ordered Emily Garcia to report to the county jail to serve ten days.
In his March 25 report, David Crowder writes that during a follow up court hearing, Luis Aguilar “berated Garcia’s probation officer, Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Guerra” because of a financial report that Guerra had produced and Luis Aguilar had deemed “totally inadequate”.
According to Crowder’s report, no one seems to know how Emily Garcia purchased a new car for about $17,000 and there are questions about jewelry that Garcia had purchased with the stolen money. David Crowder also wrote that at the hearing the probation department reported that Garcia had only paid $10 in restitution and had not completed any of her community service. It wasn’t until after Crowder’s questioning in February that Emily Garcia suddenly performed 109 hours of community service and had paid $50 in restitution. During this hearing, Aguilar extended Emily Garcia’s imprisonment and ordered Jaime Esparza’s office and the probation department to report back to him.
On Sunday’s, April 6 article, David Crowder brought us up to date on Garcia’s case. According to Crowder, during a “short and abrupt hearing” Luis Aguilar ordered Emily Garcia to spend an additional 30 days in jail. Crowder wrote that the court hearing lasted only 4 minutes.
According to Crowder’s report of that court hearing, the adult probation department asked Emily Garcia three times what happened to Garcia’s vehicle. Each time Emily Garcia refused to answer citing that she “would not answer without an attorney present”.
I realize that Emily Garcia does not have the right to refuse to answer any questions by her probation officer by the fact that individuals on probation normally forfeit certain rights. However, the simple fact that I do not know whether Emily Garcia has, the right to have an attorney present during questioning by her probation officer, is in itself a part of a problem I am seeing in this court case.
I do not know if Emily Garcia was given documentation or told what she can and cannot say to her probation officer however, in my opinion, her attorney and the probation officer should have given her the appropriate information.
As you read Crowder’s account of the latest hearing, notice that Luis Aguilar asked if Emily Garcia was prepared to answer the question about the car. Aguilar did not give her the opportunity, although she said she would. Luis Aguilar then asked whether Jaime Esparza’s office would pursue revoking Emily Garcia’s probation because she had not paid any restitution, probationary fees or completed any community service.
David Crowder wrote that Esparza’s assistant told the court that the probation department was no longer asking that Garcia’s probation be terminated and that Emily Garcia, “had, in fact, done a good deal of community service that had not been reported to the Probation Department”.
Notice how Luis Aguilar had sent a fax directly to Jaime Esparza’s office asking why the prosecutors had not “followed through with the revocation”.
Consider for a moment that a judge is supposed to be a detached, third-party arbiter who is supposed to rule between the prosecutors and the defense to ensure that those before the court are treated fairly by the system. A judge is not supposed to advocate for the incarceration and or freedom of a defendant. A judge is supposed to weigh the evidence and make an impartial determination based on the evidence.
In this case, according to Crowder’s report, it seems that Luis Aguilar is not being impartial; instead, he is injecting himself into the middle of the process by advocating for the revocation of the probation. Aguilar sent a fax directly to the prosecutors asking why the prosecutors were not pursuing revocation of the probation.
As soon as Luis Garcia heard that the probation department had withdrawn its request to revoke Emily Garcia’s probation, he abruptly rose and left the court chambers, ordering that the probation department “give her another 30 days”.
According to David Crowder’s report, Luis Aguilar rose and existed the chamber so quick that he was “almost through the door leaving the courtroom before his bailiff had a chance to say ‘All rise'”.
It is difficult to understand exactly what transpired next, as the published report isn’t really clear. However, it appears that Emily Garcia has now been sentenced to another 30 days in jail for refusing to answer her probation officer’s questions about the car.
It seems that Luis Aguilar, true to his established norm, has no respect for anyone and feels entitled by his rush to leave the courtroom. In his rush, he ordered the probation department to asses thirty days in jail for Emily Garcia. Since when does a probation officer have the right to order a probationer to jail as punishment? I thought only judges could do that. It is also becoming obvious that Luis Aguilar wants only one resolution to this case, the revocation of Emily Garcia’s adjudication probation.
I happen to agree she should not be afforded adjudication however I am not a judge and as such, I can opine on my feelings about her case. Luis Aguilar is supposed to fairly and equally weight the evidence and issue rulings based on the law, not on Emily Garcia causing him embarrassment by David Crowder’s questions a few days before the election.
More importantly is the dysfunction displayed by everyone in this case.
Obviously, Luis Aguilar leads the pack of the dysfunctional characters. The probation department seems like a bumbling group of people who cannot answer simple questions about the people they are supposed to supervise.
We know that Emily Garcia has completed 109 hours of community service although initially we were told she completed none. We still don’t know if those hours were completed over time or were done in the last few weeks before Garcia went to jail. It is insinuated she did a little over one hundred hours of community service over a three-week period of time.
If she did, what does that say about the probation department’s accounting of community service hours, and more importantly the quality of the community service? On the other hand, if Emily Garcia performed community service over a longer period of time, again what does that say about the probation department accounting of community service hours?
Jaime Esparza’s office, as usual, has no clue where and what is going on with the criminal activities of those that have been identified as criminals. How can we trust Jaime Esparza’s office to weed out the criminals that are yet to be identified?
Moreover, the defense attorney, Jim Darnell; how is it that his client either has, or does not have the right to assert the right to have an attorney present for questioning by her probation officer? More importantly, the father and son team of lawyers seem to have no clue on what’s going on.
How can their client not know to cooperate or that the lawyers didn’t know the answers to the community service, restitution or car questions. It seems Jim Darnell didn’t take seriously, Aguilar’s targeting of Emily Garcia and the one suffering the consequences sits in jail. Whether I believe Garcia deserves to be in jail is irrelevant to Jim Darnell because his only duty is to keep her out of jail. The picture of Darnell’s duo that has emerged from David Crowder’s reports are that of bumbling idiots trying to figure out what’s going on. Unfortunately, that’s par for the course in El Paso.
Where are the Darnell’s indignation of a judge’s interference with their client’s case? It seems like they are hoping everything will blow over soon and they can go about billing other unfortunate clients for haphazard legal representation. In the meantime, Emily Garcia sits in jail.
This is just typical El Paso incompetence in a case blown out of proportion by a judge’s election and a group of bumbling idiots that make up the legal system of El Paso.
As for the El Paso highfaluting, next time you see a picture of their next shindig look closely as there is probably a criminal hamming it up with them.
Oh, I almost forgot, lost in this mess are the original victims, the Boys and Girls Club. Not one of the bumbling idiots have stepped forward and asked are you ok? This is because this saga is not about what is right but rather it’s about a judge’s ego.