The attorney for an Alamo police sergeant arrested last week on a theft charge claims the arrest was “political.”
Sgt. Rodney Guerra was arraigned Oct. 26 on a Class B misdemeanor charge of theft between $100 and $750. The misdemeanor can be enhanced to a Class A, which is punishable by up to a year in county jail, since Guerra, a 23-year veteran of the Alamo Police Department, was a public servant at the time of the alleged offense.
Jesus Villalobos, Guerra’s attorney, said the charge against his client is “absolutely” untrue, and called the arrest an attempt by recently hired police Chief Baudelio Castillo to “get rid of the people who have been there for awhile and replace them with (his) folks.”
Castillo, who was hired in February, could not be reached for comment Thursday despite multiple attempts.
According to the probable cause affidavit tied to the arrest, Guerra attempted to take a pair of prescription Ray Ban glasses valued at $250 that an officer found in the passenger door of one of the department’s patrol units.
A fellow sergeant initially “hung (the glasses) on the office wall … (and) after a couple days went by, he observed that the glasses were not where he had placed them,” according to the affidavit. They were instead were on Guerra’s desk, and Guerra allegedly said he was using them because they were a “perfect prescription.”
After the sergeant discovered the glasses on Guerra’s desk a second time within the span of a week, he submitted them to the evidence property room. Three days later, Guerra asked an ID tech to let him borrow the glasses because he needed reading glasses. The tech consented, and that same day the sergeant “observed the glasses he had entered into the evidence room were on the defendant’s desk,” the affidavit states.
Guerra was placed on suspension without pay Oct. 25 following his arrest, according to City Manager Luciano Ozuna Jr.
In an Oct. 24 letter to the city manager and police chief, Villalobos wrote he had “been informed that Chief of Police Castillo told Sgt. Guerra to ‘resign today by 5:00 p.m. or he was going to be terminated and face a criminal prosecution’ for an alleged theft/mishandling of some ray-ban sunglasses.” The letter continued, “I am formally advising you both he is NOT resigning.”
Villalobos told The Monitor Thursday that he is prepared to fight the charge if Guerra is indicted and that he wants the case to go to trial “as soon as possible … to get (Guerra) vindicated of (the charge).”
In the letter to the city, Villalobos also warned that if the city terminates Guerra, he would file a wrongful termination lawsuit against them.
“I am certain that the city of Alamo has much better places to expend its limited tax revenue for the betterment of its citizens, rather than on defending itself and paying out settlements or judgments as a result of wrongfully terminating employees on baseless grounds,” the letter reads.
It could take two to three months before the case goes before a grand jury to determine whether Guerra will be formally charged with the alleged offense.