Monday, June 26, 2017


By Juan Montoya
A few years ago, local bail bondsman Raul Lopez bonded out Brownsville resident Jose Jasso on a misdemeanor charge.
Jasso showed up for court, pleaded guilty, paid his fine, and served his probated sentence. As far as Lopez knew that was the end of that, just as he has served as bondsman for hundreds, if not thousands, of other clients.

But just last week as he left a local grocery store, someone claiming to be Jasso's brother confronted him in the parking lot and accused him of sending his brother to the state penitentiary.
"He asked me if I remembered Jose Jasso and accused me of screwing him up bad," Lopez said."And then he said that he just wanted me to know that he would be coming out soon and that he was his brother."

Jasso is now serving time in the Texas Dept. of Corrections  for breaking probation on a 2007 conviction in Cameron County for possession of a controlled substance. His attorney was Oscar de la Fuente. He was 19 years old at the time. Lopez, the bail bondsman, was never involved in bailing him out on that charge. In fact, court documents show that he was released after De la Fuente signed the surety bond with the Cameron County Bail Bond Board for $20,000. (See graphic below. Click to enlarge.)

A review of the record at the Cameron County District Court Clerk's Office indicates that Jasso was given a 10-year probated sentence by then-404th District Judge Abel Limas. De la fuente and Limas figured prominently in the federal judicial corruption investigation and prosecution. Limas was sentenced to six years on numerous corruption charges.

De la Fuente turned state's evidence and was not charged with any crimes.

Under the terms of the probation Limas issued on the possession charge, Jasso was to perform a set number of community service hours, pay a fine, and report to his probation officer. If he observed the conditions of his probated sentence, he would be released of his restrictions in 2017.

His attorney's petition for early termination of his sentence and reduction of term of community supervision was denied by the court on July 2013.

Things were going well until Jasso (now identified as Jose Angel Jasso) was again charged with another offense while he was serving the 10-year probated sentence.

Unbeknownst to the court, on November 19, 2012, the Cameron County District Attorney's Office had charged Jasso, now 24, with accident involving injury and failing to render aid. At that time, his attorney, Juan Mendiola, signed an a surety bond, and he was released pending trial. (See graphic. Click to enlarge.)

When he showed up for court, the court released Mendiola's surety bond. Lopez was in no way involved in the process at all with the possession or the accident involving injury cases.

When he went to court in Judge Elia Cornejo's 404th District Court, she accepted his guilty plea and sentenced him to five years probation, to pay the victim restitution, an to pay fine. He was also to attend substance abuse classes, do community service, and general to keep his nose clean.

On December 2015, Mendiola filed a motion before Cornejo-Lopez to grant him an early termination of the sentence on the accident resulting in injury case and a reduction of his community supervision. Cornejo-Lopez again denied the defense motions and things continued as they were, with the court unaware that Jasso had broken his 10-year probation

The record shows that up until February 2017, Jasso was observing his probation restrictions and paying his fines. But somewhere between February and now, the court found out that he had broken his initial 10-year probated sentence when he pleaded guilty to the later accident causing injury charge, revoked his probation, and sent him to the Texas dept. of Corrections.

Lopez, whose involvement with Jasso predated these two offenses, says the family is under the mistaken impression that somehow he is responsible for the defendant being sent to the state penitentiary. He said that the man's mother had also visited him at his office before to accuse him of being responsible for her son's imprisonment.

"I have been in the bail bond business for more than 30 years and I have always performed my job professionally and with empathy toward my clients," he said. "It's obvious that someone is mistaken in blaming me for Mr. Jasso being locked up for breaking his probation. They got it all wrong. I am in the business of taking people out of jail, not in locking them up. I feel for Mr. Jasso and I can understand how his family feels, but they are mistaken."

Nonetheless, Lopez filed a report on the encounter with the man's brother with the Brownsville Police Dept. just in case things escalate. He says he would be willing to talk with them and clarify the matter. His brother Joe Lopez, of Mazz, has spent more than 10 years in state prison and is due to be released on parole soon.

"I know what it is to have a family member in prison," he said. "It's a horrible feeling. We have a mother who suffers just like Mr. Jasso's mother does. I don't wish that on anybody."

Mendiola, by the way, has had his bail bond board privileges stopped as a result of having too many bonds forfeited when his clients did not show up for court. Mendiola's abandoned bail bond office has been vandalized often, Lopez, said, probably by dissatisfied clients who though they were served badly.

"Things come back to you when you don't treat people well," he said. "I believe in the golden rule and that has served me well."


Anonymous said...

Oh my, what an interesting piece! astonishing!

Anonymous said...

The Cameron County judicial system is corrupt and confusing...perhaps because the state judicial system is corrupt and confusing. When someone receives a civil action, why arent' they advised to first go to the County Clerk's office to get a copy of the "petition" filed by the plaintiff. Why aren't civil case defendents told that they can file a "denial" to the court? The legal firm representing local tax collection agencies has a terrible reputation for poor "due diligence" and sending out legal actions based on poor investigative procedures. Legalize, the language of the judicial, needs to be changed to be language that humans can understand.

Anonymous said...

Lopez Bail Bonds is the best in Brownsville!! They do care for their clients and their family!! Love my Primo.....Raulito!!

Anonymous said...

Esquivel Bail Bonds BEST IN TEXAS.