Bribery, theft investigated at probation office

EDINBURG — The Hidalgo County Adult Probation office is under investigation for alleged bribery and theft by employees.

The investigation appears to focus on probation officers accused of asking probationers for bribes, though it’s unclear if the theft probe derives from the alleged bribes.

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s office began conducting the investigation after the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s office forwarded information it received last month, District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez said Friday.

“Obviously we felt it was information that needed to be turned over to a law enforcement agency, and that’s what we did at that time,” he said Friday.

The sheriff’s office released a short statement addressing the issue Friday.

“The Sheriff’s Office is confirming an ongoing theft and bribery investigation, which was initially referred to us by the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office on or about May 17, 2017,” a news release from the agency stated. “The investigation is being conducted with the cooperation of adult probation personnel … and no further information concerning this investigation will be made available at this time.”

It’s important to note probation officers are not county employees, but rather state employees under the oversight of the Hidalgo County Board of Judges.

A local government official close to the investigation said federal authorities are also interested in the case, while other sources close to the department said at least two officers have since left their posts. It’s unknown if the alleged vacancies are tied to the investigation.

Arnold Patrick, executive director of the Adult Probation department, did not return calls seeking comment Friday afternoon.

nlopez@themonitor.com

Monitor staff writer Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro contributed to this report.