Skip to comments.Former judge gets seven years in prison (South Texas)
Posted on 03/06/2004 2:24:57 PM PST by SwinneySwitch
A tearful Frances Flores was jailed Friday after Judge Ben Euresti sentenced her to seven years in prison for stealing funds while she was San Benitos municipal court judge.
As she was being sentenced, Flores, 49, said she did not steal the money.
Flores will be held at a location to be determined by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
I made a big mistake, she said. I failed myself and the citizens of San Benito. I did not take $743,000. I did favors, a lot of favors.
Euresti has made no ruling on whether Flores must make restitution as a condition of parole.
During the sentencing hearing, which began Thursday morning, Flores attorneys quizzed city officials about alleged requests or demands to fix traffic tickets in Flores court.
San Benito city secretary Lupita Passement testified that she knew of at least two occasions when traffic tickets were fixed.
Has Mrs. Flores ever fixed any tickets for you? defense attorney Luis Saenz asked.
Yes, maybe once, not for me, for a friend, Passement said. On another occasion, a city official left an envelope with her for Flores containing one ticket, she said.
Passement testified that Flores is her friend and has been so during the 22 years she worked for the city.
On Feb. 15, 2003, Flores called her and asked her to come to her office, Passement said.
Frances called; she had a problem. She was crying, upset. Something terrible has happened. Theyre auditing and I had borrowed some money, Passement said Flores told her.
After meeting with Flores, Passement advised her to go home, she said.
Municipal Court Clerk Elvira Cavazos testified it was common for elected officials to pressure Flores to fix traffic tickets.
She didnt like to do it, Cavazos said. But she said we might need their help some time.
Saenz proved with city documents that $1,245.17 in court funds went missing on Dec. 12, 2001, while Flores was on sick leave. Euresti deducted that amount from the $743,413.13 that prosecutors claimed Flores stole.
During questioning by Saenz, City Manager Victor Treviño said a $1 million figure mentioned in a resolution passed this week by the San Benito City Commission was an approximation. The figure was calculated by adding $245,069.41 in stolen fine money that must be paid by the city to the state to the approximately $750,000 officials claimed Flores stole, he said.
After the hearing, Treviño said he was aware of no cases of tickets being fixed. But if a citizen requested leniency, the judge had the option of giving a sentence of deferred adjudication, a form of probation, in a traffic or misdemeanor case.
The offender would then only have to pay court costs without a fine and possibly perform community service, the city manager said.
Let me guess. She only took $742,999.99?
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