Tuesday, December 20, 2016


By Juan Montoya
The first time I wrote about Joe Lopez and El Grupo Mazz it was in the late 1970s when they had just released their first hit "Laura Ya no Vive Aqui."
The group was better known in California than in Texas, but that year they were playing in the Texas Southmost College graduation dance at the Jacob Brown Civic Center and the editors of the Brownsville Herald agreed that it would be a good idea to do a story on the local boys who done good. In those days the newspaper had a Lifestyle Section and the editor was always after the news reporters to contribute something from their beats that fit the content and format of the section.                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was, in effect, a full page with a generous dose of photos on the subject. That's when I met some of the early members of the band, the principals being Joe Lopez and Jimmy Gonzalez. It's now been some 36 years since then, but memories still remain from those early days. 

The thought of the band comes up everytime I pass by the offices of local attorneys Bobby Lerma and Ben Neece on Van Buren and I catch a glimpse of a pristine candy-apple red 57 Chevy parked in the rear garage but visible from the street.

That car used to be the prized possession of lead singer Joe Lopez when the band took off to its legendary artistic heights. At the time he had it, the band topped the charts and "Chepe" was at the top of his game. Unfortunately, how the car got to be in Bobby Lerma's possession is not as pleasant a story.

We've all heard about Lopez's convictions on charges he sexually molested his 13-year-old niece and how his family and supporters have charged that it was due in malicious prosecution by now-convicted former Cameron County District Attorney Arrmando Villalobos.

They have pointed out that Villalobos harbored a grudge against Joe, that DNA evidence may have been fabricated to convict him, and that when he changed his defense attorneys, he retained a lawyer (Mike Trejo) who had acted as a go-between Villalobos and other attorneys who funnelled more than $120,000 for a wrongful death referral just months before he defended Joe against the DA's prosecution.

They also point out that the judge who presided over the trial (Abel LImas) is also serving time in a federal prison as a result of his conviction for taking bribes and racketeering. Lopez is still seeking an appeal on the charges after having been convicted and incarcerated since 2006. He was due for his first parole hearing in October, and was disappointed as were his family and supporters.

But I digress. When Lerma still had Joe as his client, the singer bartered to give him  the 57 Chevy in partial payment of his legal fees, Lerma accepted the proposal Afterward, Lopez was convinced by his manager to dismiss Lerma and hire the new lawyers with ties to the DA and Lerma had nothing further to do with Joe's defense.

Every time that Bobby parks the car in the street outside his law office, it always draws a crowd of admirers who marvel at the condition of its paint and interior. Say what you may about Lopez or his guilt or innocence, he definitely had a good taste in cars. 


Anonymous said...

still guilty.

Anonymous said...

Now Bobby parades this car like if he is a car fanatic...winning prizes. He hasn't done one thing to that car other change the license plates to his name. What I loser Bobby Lerma. Lawyers will always be lawyers. You know the saying about lawyers.

Lets hear some?

A fox may steal your hens, Sir,
A whore your health and pence, Sir,
Your daughter rob your chest, Sir,
Your wife may steal your rest, Sir,
A thief your goods and plate.
But this is all but picking,
With rest, pence, chest and chicken;
It ever was decreed, Sir,
If lawyer's hand is fee'd, Sir,
He steals your whole estate.

- John Gay (1685-1732), English dramatist. Peachum, in The Beggar's Opera, act 1, sc. 9, Air 11.

Anonymous said...

Eso le paso a Joe por cachondo, cochino, corriente, y caliente

Anonymous said...

Karma is coming

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha cochino...cachondo...

Anonymous said...

What's sad is that people still love Joe Lopez after he molested his niece. Only in the valley smh!

Anonymous said...

Who cares? As for Joe "peodifile" Lopez may he rot in jail.