BERENICE GARCIA AND MARK REAGAN | STAFF WRITERS
The Starr County Attorney’s Office Special Crime Unit began investigating Rio Grande City’s city secretary last September after its human resources director discovered a recording device in her office.
Brenda Lee, the unit’s spokeswoman, said Lyzette Peña turned herself into the Starr County Sheriff’s Office Friday morning after learning there was a warrant for her arrest.
She is charged with unlawful interception, use or disclosure of wire, oral or electronic communications and has been placed on administrative leave.
Lee said the investigation into Peña began on Sept. 6, when human resources director Valerie Brown Garza discovered a recording device under her desk, which she gave to her supervisor who in turn handed it over to the Rio Grande City Police Department.
As detectives began gathering information, they discovered that Peña had unplugged a small device from her own desktop computer before walking outside of City Hall briefly, then returning inside and entering Garza’s office.
That video also shows Peña exiting Garza’s office, Lee said.
When investigators listened to the recording device, they hear a door closing shortly after turning the device on, authorities said.
After the case was handed over to the Special Crime Unit, investigators watched the surveillance video while listening to the device and were able to sync the sound of the door with Peña leaving the office, Lee explained.
During an interview with the police, Lee said Peña denied knowing anything about the recording device, but said she knew about an investigation into Garza.
Peña claimed she went into Garza’s office the same day the device was placed in her office to get a folder and told an officer she went outside before entering Garza’s office because she wanted to make sure there were no other employees around who would tell Garza that she had entered the office, Lee said.
When asked about the device, Peña opined that someone possibly wanted to know how easy it was to get information from Garza, Lee said.
The device also picked up the voices of Garza speaking to people in her office, authorities said.
The city issued a two-sentence statement Friday that provided no details into the matter.
“The City has been notified of the investigation related to city employee Lyzette Pena,” the statement read. “As in all similar situations, the city reviews these types of matters on a case by case basis. At this point in time, that employee has been placed on administrative leave.”
She was arrested by the Starr County Attorney’s Office Special Crime Unit and released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.