Ex-sergeant arrested in Alamo over glasses, again

Alamo Police sergeant, Rodney Guerra, stands in handcuffs at the city's municipal court with his lawyer, Jesus "Jesse" Villalobos on Jan. 9, 2019. (J. Edward Moreno | emoreno@themonitor.com)

ALAMO — A former police sergeant here was arrested Tuesday over a pair of Ray Bans, marking the second occasion in four months that he was placed under arrest over the glasses.

Rodney Guerra, 45, was arrested on a third-degree felony charge of tampering with evidence and arraigned Wednesday at the Alamo Municipal Court. He was released from the Hidalgo County jail on a $20,000 personal recognizance bond shortly after being booked.

Alamo Police Chief Baudelio Castillo said Guerra’s latest arrest is tied to an Oct. 26 arrest for property theft, a Class A misdemeanor. According to the probable cause affidavit tied to that charge, Guerra, a 21-year veteran of the department, allegedly tried to take a pair of prescription Ray Bans that had been placed in the evidence property room. The glasses had been recovered from one of the department’s patrol units.

“The tampering comes in that (Guerra) went to a closed area — our evidence room — and took custody of our actual evidence,” Castillo said.

Rodney Guerra

Guerra’s attorney, Jesus “Jesse” Villalobos, has questioned the validity of the allegations against his client and called the arrests politically motivated. Guerra was terminated from the department the day before his October arrest because he refused to resign.

“What’s happening here is that they can’t make any type of theft case, so they decided to find something else, but they’re not going to make that either,” said Villalobos.

The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office has yet to determine whether it will prosecute the theft case against Guerra.

The attorney also took issue with the arraignment taking place Wednesday, despite Guerra turning himself in Tuesday and the municipal judge being on-hand all that afternoon for arraignments.

“They had him in jail because the chief of police wanted him there, and that’s it,” said Villalobos, adding he was prevented from visiting Guerra after he was booked into the city’s jail.

Castillo, however, said department “protocol” is “if you get arrested today, you’ll get arraigned tomorrow,” adding, “There were no special privileges for Mr. Guerra.”

Per Texas law, the accused must be seen by a judge within 48 hours after an arrest to read the charges against them.

Guerra’s arrest comes days after a district court judge extended until March the temporary restraining order the police chief filed to prevent the Alamo Board of Commissioners from firing him.

Castillo alleges board members want him out for investigating city officials and personnel, among them Commissioner Robert De La Garza for unlawful carrying of a weapon without a license. This stems from an allegation that De La Garza personally returned Guerra’s service weapon to the police department following Guerra’s termination.

The chief denied Wednesday that the timing of the former sergeant’s new arrest was connected to the TRO extension, rather saying he waited to file the new charge until he clarified details with the DA’s office.