Former Alamo police chief sues again, hearing scheduled

In this May 2019 file photo, Alamo's former chief of police, Baudelio Castillo, walks to address the attendees after being terminated in a specially called meeting by the Alamo City Commission on Monday, May 20, 2019, in Alamo. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

Alamo’s former police chief has asked a state district judge to order the city to give him his job back.

Baudelio Castillo sued Alamo Mayor Diana Martinez, Alamo City Commissioners Robert De La Garza and Maria Del Pilar Garza, Alamo City Manager Luciano Ozuna Jr. and the city itself on June 12 in the 275th state District Court, approximately three weeks after the city fired him at a meeting.

The defendants generally deny the allegations and, in an answer to the lawsuit, said they are protected by government immunity.

On Thursday morning, Castillo and the parties are scheduled to appear before 275th state District Judge Marla Cuellar for a hearing about a motion Castillo filed on July 16 asking to be reinstated as Alamo’s top cop.

Cuellar previously ruled against Castillo in May, dismissing a lawsuit the former police chief filed alleging that the city violated whistleblower laws by retaliating against him for investigating alleged wrongdoing by city officials.

In this case, the judge ruled Castillo failed to meet criteria needed to waive government immunity, specifically that he never started or exhausted the city’s grievance or appeal procedures before suing, according to newspaper archives.

“After Plaintiff’s termination, Plaintiff attended an appeal hearing on June 10, 2019. The City Board of Commissioners did not vote to reinstate Plaintiff at the appeal hearing,” the latest motion states.

In the litigation, Castillo cites several “investigations” he says resulted in the alleged retaliation, including bribery and theft cases.

“Plaintiff reported other bribery cases and some theft cases involving city of Alamo public officials and employees to the Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney Office,” the lawsuit read. “All this was reported to Defendant Ozuna who is the City of Alamo City Manager.”

According to Castillo, Crystal Denise Garza was Ozuna’s executive secretary.

Castillo arrested and charged Garza last summer with engaging in organized criminal activity on allegations she leaked sensitive police information to a local drug trafficking organization, including identities and addresses of undercover officers and police targets.

Castillo has not publicly explained how Garza allegedly accessed this information, according to newspaper archives.

“And the defendant did then and there commit said offense with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination who collaborated in carrying on said criminal activity,” the indictment against her read.

That charging document also accuses Garza of possession with the intent to distribute more than 1 gram but fewer than 4 grams of cocaine.

She has entered a not guilty plea to the two-count indictment.

Castillo also cites the case of former Alamo police officer Rodney Guerra, who police accused of stealing a pair of sun glasses from the evidence vault, who, according to Castillo, is a friend of De La Garza, according to the lawsuit.

A search of state criminal records does not bring back any charges against Guerra, whose attorney, Jesus “Jesse” Villalobos, has called “politically motivated.”

Castillo also accuses De La Garza of unlawfully carrying a handgun and accuses an Alamo city clerk who Castillo says has resigned over allegations the person paid for a divorce with tax dollars, according to the lawsuit.

The city of Alamo, meanwhile, has advertised the position for a new chief.

Previous coverage

Alamo fires police chief after monthslong dispute