Thursday, August 3, 2017


"The financial data requested from the defendant during the interview with the Pre-Trial Services Office will include but is not limited to the defendant's income, source of income, assets, property owned, outstanding obligations, necessary expenses, the number and ages of dependants, and spousal income that is available to the defendant."

By Juan Montoya
The last time we checked, we thought that the Pre-Trial Release Bail Bond Program was meant to help gain the freedom of legal indigent residents Cameron County pending a court appearance and to lower the jail population.

To qualify for the service, a defendant must prove he or she can't afford to post a regular bond and be a legal resident who will show up for trial if he or she is released.

We would think that people who are in the country illegally would not qualify for the program, but we have been proven wrong. Not that it doesn't happen, mind you, but this one took us for a loop.

In fact, other than permanent residents who can provide proof of residency in the county, most bail bond companies are reluctant to issue bonds in case they fail to appear for their court date and abscond to Mexico.

Se that nasty-looking character at top right? He is Santiago Garcia, who was arrested by the Brownsville Police Dept. July 11 and charged with criminal trespass and making terroristic threats. The charge of criminal trespass applies when a person has been told to leave a certain place and he returns despite the warning.

We don't know the details of his charges, but we have acquired the pre-trial release bond paper work on this guy and guess what?
Despite the fact that he lists his address in Mexico as well as his closest relatives, he was able to gain his release through the county's pre-trial release bond program on two $1,000 bonds set by the court.

And that wasn't the end of that. They were able to talk the judge into releasing him on personal recognizance without having him pay one cent.

Amount paid: $0
Balance due: $0

Now, if you lived in Matamoros and were facing trial for criminal trespass and making terroristic threats in the county's County Court At-Law, would you show up? What guarantees did the pre-trial release program get that Garcia would not go back to his potentially violent ways as soon as he hit the streets?

Since there was no immigration hold by Immigration and Customs Enforement (ICE) on Garcia, neither the Brownsville Police Dept. nor the Cameron County Sheriff's Dept. notified the federal agents. Will that change come when SB4 kicks into effect in September, less than a month away?

Now, the man in the right is Gustavo Muñoz, the driver of the car that struck Janet Jimenez, 29, and her two-year-old, Yahel Ruben Cruz, as they walked along South Padre Island Highway. He died immediately and the mother hung on for another day before she passed away.

Muñoz was charged with criminal negligent homicide and a $7,500 bond was placed on him by the court. At 10 percent, that would have been $750 for a commercial bondsman to free him. But the pre-trial bond department stepped in and lowered it to a little over 3 percent and he was able to post bond on that chagre with $225.

The same thing happened with the Aggravated Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Harm charge. For some unknown reason, the court placed a $30,000 bond, $22,500 less than the negligent homicide charge. If he had gone to a local bondsman, he would have needed $3,000 to be bailed out. In this case, also, the pre-trial bond department also stepped in to save the day, also at 3 percent and his daughter posted the $900 payment.

Local bondsmen scratched their heads at the bond placed upon the charges by the court figuring that the criminal negligent homicide charge should have been $30,000 and the aggravated assault charge $7,500.

Nonetheless, when Muñoz showed up in court, he had hired attorney Helen Delgadillo, who charges the going rates locally to represent her clients. They wondered, "If the defendant could afford to hire this type of legal representation, how was it that he was considered indigent by the pre-trial bond department?"

There have been noises in the past that the pre-trial release program was being changed to reflect a common-sense approach to performing its mission to help indigent legal residents get out of jail.
But allowing Mexican citizens to get out of jail for nothing and considering others who can afford to hire costly legal represntation would seem to go against hat mission.


Anonymous said...

The million-dollar question is who can audit the pre-trial program??? Could you please investigate Mr Montoya who we have to contact to look into this and once at it who can also audit all the attorneys in Cameron County that are doing attorney Surety bonds and owe thousands of dollars on clients that have fled the country.

Anonymous said...

The judicial system in Cameron County is corrupt! Special people get special treatment. How can any of us believe we will get a fair trial if in court, when so many decisions are made based on "who knows who". The Sheriff is corrupt, we have several DA's in jail, and bail bondsmen seem to get special privileges from the courts. Its who you know or who you blow around here.

Anonymous said...