Corruption and Dirty Deeds at the Department of Public Safety

 

This written affidavit is made pursuant §614.021 of the Texas Government Code, complaining of the wrongful and unlawful conduct engaged in by Rene Aaron Olivarez, a Texas peace officer employed as Special Agent by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) ID No. 11884. 

 

I further request that Agent Olivarez be criminally investigated for violations of the Texas Penal Code, specifically §39.02 Abuse of Official Capacity and §39.03 Official Oppression. Agent Olivarez was the lead investigator for DPS in the State of Texas criminal case against me and other members of Cameron County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office for alleged criminal activity within that office labeled “Dirty Deeds.”

I am a licensed master peace officer of this State and have been in law enforcement for over 30 years. I have been employed with the Cameron County Tax Assessor Collector’s Office since 2001.

 

Prior to my arrest, I served as the Lieutenant for the Auto-theft Task Force within that office, my duties were to supervise the vehicle registration department of the tax office, detect and prevent automobile crimes in Cameron County. Prior to agent Olivarez getting involved in my life, I had never been arrested.

 

I am a dedicated father of two children and have been married for over 20 years.
Because of Olivarez’s wrongful actions and questionable investigative techniques, on January 6,
2016, I was arrested at my place of employment and indicted for numerous felony counts of
Bribery, Official Oppression, and Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity.

 

On August 19, 2016, after realizing that Olivarez’s investigation was without merit, the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office under Luis V. Saenz had no alternative but to dismiss all charges against me.

 

By this time, I had been publicly humiliated in the news media, my family and I endured many months of emotional distress, I lost my job, I lost my only source of income to support my family and I was forced to spend thousands of dollars in bonds and attorney’s fees.

 

Agent Olivarez also had my Texas Peace Officer’s license revoked. Agent Olivarez’s actions led to considerable amount of economic and personal hardship.

 

On January 5, 2016, officer Olivarez submitted various general complaints and warrant affidavits to Judge Elia Cornejo Lopez of the 404 th Judicial District Court of Cameron County, Texas.

 

In said complaints Olivarez under oath, accused me of engaging in organized criminal activity, official oppression and participating in an alleged bribery scheme within the Cameron County Tax Office. Olivarez claimed that I contributed and participated

in the profits of the alleged bribery scheme of Tony Yzaguirre, Jr., the Cameron County Tax

Assessor-Collector.

 

Olivarez Falsely Swore I Took Bribes, As Did DA Luis Saenz, Without Evidence

Olivarez (above)  affirmed that his informant Mr. Melquiades Sosa (at left) paid a cash bribe to Yzaguirre as consideration for processing faulty motor vehicle title transfers and that I shared in said bribe.

(Sosa had copped a plea with the DA’s Office to dismiss nine counts of Tampering With a Government Document in return for his false testimony. All nine counts were dismissed by Saenz.)

If one were to ask Olivarez, what evidence he had that I received a bribe, his response would surely be “none.”  His allegations against me were nothing more than conjecture
and speculation. No witness ever told him that I accepted a bribe. No video ever showed I accepted a bribe. No audio showed I accepted a bribe. His investigation yielded no evidence whatsoever that I
ever accepted a bribe.

He basically pulled this allegation out of thin air so that he could arrest me and then coerce me. The same applies to his engaging in organized criminal activity and official oppression allegations.

Olivarez…eventually testified under oath that he was unaware of the law and rules pertaining to title transfers. Because he did not know the law, he based his entire investigation around an incorrect premise. I was allegedly splitting a $100 bribe with at least 2 other people so that the tax office would waive proof of ID and insurance requirements.

…Aside from not knowing the law at the heart of his case, his allegation absurdly assumes that I would jeopardize my career for a grand total of $33.33. His actions reflect badly on the Texas Department of Public Safety which continues to employ him.

As law enforcement officers we must guard against abusing the great power bestowed upon us. Not all officers, however, are able to adequately live up to this responsibility. Agent Olivarez’s actions demonstrate that he is such an officer.

The flagrant disregard of exculpatory evidence by an officer is dangerous to the citizenry which he is sworn to protect and to the enforcement of the laws he is sworn to uphold. Agent Olivarez should not be allowed to continue as a peace officer. He lacks the judgment and character necessary for this position.

 

Jose Mireles

 

Luis V. Saenz, the district attorney for Cameron County, said his office led a two-year investigation, called Operation Dirty Deeds, into bribery, organized criminal activity and official oppression in the tax assessor-collector’s office in 2016. That investigation was lead by DPS Agents Rene Olivarez and Ryan G. Maza.  Cameron County Tax Assessor-Collector Tony Yzaguirre and five other tax office staffers were charged with combined criminal counts of bribery, abuse of official capacity, official oppression, engaging in organized criminal activity, tampering with government records, and breach of computer security.  Operating under the name “Operation Dirty Deeds.” the case was tried at the direction of Cameron County District Attorney Saenz and prosecuted by Asst. D.A. Peter Gilman who was assisted by Asst. D.A. Edward Sandoval.

In 2016, authorities arrested Yzaguirre, Mireles, Garza, Sanchez-Paz, Sanchez and Garza and accused them in participating in a scheme to take bribes to illegally register vehicles.   All of the above individuals were handcuffed, jailed and together, faced a combined total of 40 felony charges.

 

However, as the case progressed charges would be dropped against all of the employees except Yzaguirre, who was exonerated on Feb. 4, 2017, when a Nueces County jury in Corpus Christi found Yzaguirre not guilty of all of the charges against him.

Yzaguirre has since had his record expunged and said earlier this year that the other employees charged are working on expunction cases of their own.

All were innocent, and none were convicted. However, the damage they sustained is irreparable.

Both Mireles and Garza filed a federal lawsuit against Cameron County seeking back pay, vacation benefits, seniority and attorneys fees. That lawsuit was settled in March though it’s unknown what the terms are as the parties signed confidentiality agreements.

 

“The negative publicity stemming from Olivarez’s flawed investigation was so extreme that my criminal case was moved from Cameron County to Nueces County. The damage to my reputation is irreparable,” Yzaguirre wrote. “Any reasonably prudent law enforcement officer would agree, Agent Olivarez was beyond reckless and clearly abused his power at numerous points of his investigation. I respectfully request that he be criminally investigated as a result of his malfeasance.”

 

Yzaguirre also said that if Maza was aware of Olivarez’s alleged negligence, he too should be sanctioned and if he didn’t know, he is still to blame.

 

In a letter to Lucio dated Oct. 25, Captain Bonnie Casey-Moore confirmed receipt of the complaints and said the OIG is committed to addressing complaints against DPS agents.

According to the complaint, Olivarez was the lead investigator on the case and Maza was his supervisor.

 

Yzaguirre alleges that Olivarez displayed reckless ignorance of the law because the crux of his investigation was based on auto title transfers, though he eventually testified in court that he was unaware of laws and rules pertaining to title transfers.

 

“As part of his sting operation, Olivarez solicited the help of Melquiades Sosa. Mr. Sosa had been previously arrested by Olivarez and charged with 9 felonies. Mr. Sosa was caught illegally tampering with government records and forging documents,” Yzaguirre said in an affidavit. “Though none of Mr. Sosa’s actions and charges pertained to any wrongdoing by me or my office, Olivarez along with the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, agreed to dismiss all criminal charges against Melquiades Sosa if he would help build a case against me. In other words, I became a target.”

 

During the trial, Olivarez testified he was not aware that title transfers sought by car dealers or runners for a dealership do not require insurance or identity requirements. Sosa, Olivarez’s information, was a used car dealer, according to the complaint.

 

“And because (Olivarez) was ignorant of the law, he unknowingly manufactured dealer titles with valid dealer numbers which he then provided to his informant as part of his sting operation. Because he was ignorant of the dealer exception, he incorrectly assumed that I was getting paid not to check informant’s ID and insurance,” Yzaguirre said in an affidavit.

 

Olivarez testified during the trial that he was unaware of this when he arrested Yzaguirre.

 

Yzaguirre also accuses Olivarez of disregarding exculpatory evidence, failing to preserve evidence, disregarding evidence of campaign funds, ignoring doubts about the investigation expressed by a fellow investigator and accuses Maza of failing to supervise Olivarez.

 

“The negative publicity stemming from Olivarez’s flawed investigation was so extreme that my criminal case was moved from Cameron County to Nueces County. The damage to my reputation is irreparable,” Yzaguirre wrote. “Any reasonably prudent law enforcement officer would agree, Agent Olivarez was beyond reckless and clearly abused his power at numerous points of his investigation. I respectfully request that he be criminally investigated as a result of his malfeasance.”

 

Yzaguirre also said that if Maza was aware of Olivarez’s alleged negligence, he too should be sanctioned and if he didn’t know, he is still to blame.

 

In a letter to Lucio dated Oct. 25, Captain Bonnie Casey-Moore confirmed receipt of the complaints and said the OIG is committed to addressing complaints against DPS agents.

 

The investigation will determine whether the complaints are unfounded, whether the agents will be exonerated because the investigation was justified under existing conditions, whether the complaint was not sustained because of insufficient evidence or whether the allegation is substantiated and supported by sufficient evidence.

 

If the complaints are sustained, the agents could face a formal written reprimand, disciplinary probation, time without pay, reduction of salary, demotion or discharge.