State issues response in attempt to remove RGC school board trustee

The state has now issued its response in the ongoing legal proceedings to have Daniel J. Garcia removed from the Rio Grande City school board.

Last week, Garcia’s attorney filed a brief opposing his temporary removal from the board pending trial, a request made by the state, which is represented in this case by Starr County Attorney Victor Canales.

In its response, the state argued that the defense’s case “completely and totally fails on its face.”

Garcia’s defense attorney, Gocha Ramirez, had argued that the allegations in the removal petition that Garcia was involved in an attempt to bribe a state district judge were vague, unspecific, and failed to meet the state’s specificity requirements, which include that the petition “must cite the time and place of the occurrence of each act alleged as a ground for removal with as much certainty as the nature of the case permits.”

However, the state shot back, arguing that those allegations were specific allegations of bribery and conspiracy to commit official misconduct.

“They absolutely meet the specificity requirements set out under (the Texas local government code),” the state wrote in their response.

The petition to remove Garcia was filed in May by Ricardo Lopez, a former employee of the school district.

In the petition, he cited an April federal indictment filed against Garcia as part of the basis for his removal from the school board. The federal indictment stems from an investigation into an alleged bribery scheme surrounding the city of Weslaco’s water treatment facilities.

Garcia pleaded not guilty to the charges.

However, Lopez also alleges that Garcia requested bribes from school district employees in exchange for pay raises or promotions, and that Garcia, an attorney, abused his position on the school board so that he’d be hired for the defense team for a murder case.

Lopez was arrested in November 2017 for allegedly attempting to bribe the judge who was presiding over that same murder case at the time — 381st state District Judge Jose Luis Garza. Lopez, however, alleges that Garcia orchestrated that bribery attempt.

Garcia has never been charged with those allegations.

In the brief, Ramirez had also referenced the deposition of the Robert Caples, commander of the Special Crimes Unit which investigated the attempted bribery case, and stated that Caples had stated that the allegations against Garcia had not met his own threshold for prosecution.

But the state said the defense was misinterpreting Caples’ statements.

“What Investigator Caples stated previously was (that) he ‘… wanted the case to be reviewed and to be decided upon, if need be, by the District Attorney taking the case forward to a Grand Jury for a decision,’” the state wrote. “This (is) who in our judicial system decides whether or not there is probable cause. Not the Defendant, nor his counsel.”

The state added that the burden of proof for a temporary removal was lower than probable cause.