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Celis' law enforcement credentials scrutinized (Defendant accused of posing as public servant)
The "Award Winning" Corpus Christi Caller-Times ^ | July 28, 2010 at 6:55 p.m. | Mary Ann Cavazos, Jessica Savage

Posted on 07/28/2010 9:50:24 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative

CORPUS CHRISTI — Mauricio Celis’ expired reserve deputy credentials were part of the state’s efforts years before to clean its rosters of uncertified deputies, a state official testified Wednesday.

Celis, 38, is being tried on a charge of impersonating a public servant, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and as much as a $10,000 fine.

Prosecutors say he used a Duval County reserve deputy badge in 2007 after his law enforcement commission was suspended in 2003. Defense attorneys have said the badge was issued to Celis by former Duval County Sheriff Santiago Barrera and that Celis believed it still was valid.

The case stems from a September 2007 incident in which Lyndie Sines left Celis’ Kings Crossing home nude and walked to a nearby convenience store. A store clerk called police at the request of a bystander. Celis later drove to the scene and flashed a badge, asking to take the woman home.

The head of the state’s law enforcement commission testified Wednesday that Celis had more than 600 hours of law enforcement training from Del Mar College when he became a reserve deputy in 1997 for the Duval County Sheriff’s Office.

He was allowed four years to pass a peace officer exam, which the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education required for reserve deputies, commission Executive Director Tim Houghton said.

Celis failed that exam and was denied reserve deputy certification, Houghton said. But he was not taken off Duval County’s roster until October 2007 — a month after the incident, according to testimony from former Duval County Chief Deputy Bruno Valdez, who oversaw the reserve deputy division.

Valdez began in that role in 2000 and testified he never saw Celis at the department. Reserve deputies were required keep community service hours and later have a peace officer license.

After Celis’ badge came under investigation, Barrera sent a letter to Nueces County Sheriff Jim Kaelin asking the badge be returned to Celis. Barrera testified Wednesday he sent the letter at Celis’ request and without researching whether Celis should have the badge.

“So it’s not true,” Special Prosecutor Angelica Hernandez asked.

“Right,” Barrera said.

Barrera sent another letter several days later retracting his request. He said Celis’ state certification became invalid Oct. 15, 2003. Celis’ name was then taken off the Duval County roster.

Defense attorney Hector Canales said state law puts reserve deputies under sheriff’s purview, not the law enforcement commission. Under those rules, Celis’ credentials would have been valid until his name was taken off the Duval roster, Canales said.

Police Capt. Mike Markle testified Wednesday that Celis attempted to take custody of Sines — first by flashing a badge and later by calling the police chief. Markle said Celis drove up while police were interviewing Sines, who at that point was wearing a shirt.

Markle said Celis was dressed in a bathrobe and flashed a five-pointed badge.

“He said, ‘I’ll take custody of her,’ and I said, ‘No you won’t,’” Markle said.

Later that night when police took Sines to her vehicle in a parking lot to retrieve a cell phone, Celis again showed up, Markle said.

But that time, Celis pulled out a cell phone and called then-police Chief Bryan Smith.

“He said, ‘Your boss wants to talk to you,’” Markle said. “Before the chief spoke I said, ‘Chief you don’t want any part of this. You got a man here in a bathrobe flashing a badge.’”

The incident ended with Celis leaving and police taking Sines home.

Sines testified Tuesday that she and then-boyfriend Damon Bentley had been drinking with Celis at a Southside restaurant and ended up in a hot tub at Celis’ house.

She said at some point she left the house, still nude, to get something from her truck but didn’t remembered much after that.

She has said she feels Celis’ indictment is her fault.

This is the second trial for Celis. The defense will present its case Thursday.

He was convicted last year of impersonating a lawyer and sentenced to 10 years probation. He has appealed that conviction and still faces trials on charges of theft and money laundering.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: corpuschristi; democrats; mauriciocelis; triallawyers
This scandal surrounding Mauricio Celis lead to him being discovered to be practicing law without a law license in any known jurisdiction. He was being paid by prominent plaintiff lawyers in Corpus Christi, Texas for case referrals in particular the Watts Law Firm. In Texas it illegal to pay referral fees to anyone other than a lawyer. No one can find any record of Celis having a license to practice law in Mexico where he says he attended law school, but there is no record of him ever graduating. As a result of this scandal, Mikal Watts, the founder of the Watts Law firm withdrew his name from the the 2008 DemocRAT primary race for the US Senate seat held by John Cornyn after donating millions dollars of his own money to his campaign.

This case would have gone nowhere had it not been for the fact that on election night 2006 when Republicans were getting creamed across the country, Nueces County, Texas elected its first Republican Sheriff and first Republican County Judge since Reconstruction. The DemocRAT candidate for sheriff would not have bothered to call up the Duval county Sheriff to see if Celis had a valid deputy badge. The Duval County Sheriff said the badge had expired three years previously. The previous Nueces County Sheriff, Larry Olivares was employed by Celis after resigning as sheriff to run for the position of Nueces County Judge.

Here is a list of articles posted on Free Republic mostly by me about Mauricio Cellis.

1 posted on 07/28/2010 9:50:28 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
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To: flattorney; Jim Robinson; SwinneySwitch


Here are artlcles about Mikal Watts.

Here is a list of articles posted on Free Republic mostly by me about Mauricio Cellis.

2 posted on 07/28/2010 9:52:48 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
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To: Paleo Conservative

I thought a judge just ruled it was perfectly legal to lie bout being a Govt official...

IE: the stolen valor act...


3 posted on 07/28/2010 11:12:24 PM PDT by Crim (The Obama Doctrine : A doctrine based on complete ignorance,applied with extreme incompetence..)
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To: Crim; Clemenza
A corrupt DemocRAT judge tried to sabotage the case. We're going to defeat him in November. It's interesting how much of the Celis news got covered by the San Antonio paper first rather than the local paper in Corpus Christi.

Judge Bañales is off the Celis case

By John MacCormack - Express-News
Web Posted: 07/22/2009 3:27 CDT

The presiding judge of the 5th Judicial Region will no longer be hearing matters involving Mauricio Celis, a bogus Corpus Christi lawyer with close links to many prominent legal and political figures in South Texas.

Judge Manuel Bañales was removed Wednesday by Judge Louis Sturns of Fort Worth, who last week heard evidence on a recusal motion filed by prosecutors.

Sturns was appointed after Bañales refused to step down voluntarily.

In explaining his decision, Sturns cited campaign contributions to Bañales from lawyers linked to Celis.

“It is significant that in this case, attorneys and law firms involved with sharing fees with the defendant were donors to the judge's re-election campaign,” he wrote.

“The role of campaign contributions; their source, and the timing of the fundraising event cast an ominous shadow over these proceedings,” he added.

A new judge is likely to be assigned to that case, and possibly others involving Celis.

“I am encouraged that perhaps we can find somebody who has no ties or connection to the area,” said Nueces County District Attorney Carlos Valdez, who along with state Attorney General Greg Abbott had sought Bañales' removal.

Celis' lead counsel, David Botsford, did not respond to a request for comment.

Bañales likewise declined to comment.

In their motion, prosecutors argued that Bañales had lost the appearance of impartiality after intervening in the Celis case that in February led to conviction on 14 felony counts of impersonating a lawyer.

In May, Bañales removed visiting Judge Mark Luitjen of San Antonio, who had presided over the case through the verdict, after Celis' lawyers claimed Luitjen had been unfair. At that May 15 recusal hearing, jurors testified that Luitjen had appeared biased against Celis.

Bañales then appointed himself to hear the rest of the case, and three days later he sentenced Celis.

Where Luitjen had outlined a penalty of a year in jail and restitution of more than $1 million for Celis, Bañales sentenced him to probation and greatly reduced the restitution.

Still pending in that case is a motion for a new trial filed by defense lawyers, based on Luitjen's alleged bias against Celis. It will now be assigned to another judge.

Celis also faces three other trials that Bañales assigned to Judge Richard Terrell of Jim Wells County.

But Valdez said all these actions may be challenged.

“We are going to review all the rulings made by Judge Bañales since he took over the case, including the recusal and the sentencing — everything — to see if we have any remedy,” he said.

“It's going to take some time to see what if anything we can do about these rulings,” he said.

4 posted on 07/29/2010 5:05:39 AM PDT by Paleo Conservative
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To: Paleo Conservative

“The head of the state’s law enforcement commission testified Wednesday that Celis had more than 600 hours of law enforcement training from Del Mar College when he became a reserve deputy in 1997 for the Duval County Sheriff’s Office.”

600 hours and he couldn’t pass the TCLEOSE test?

Bogus Del Mar hours like his law school classes in Mexico?

5 posted on 07/29/2010 8:35:36 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Victory or Death!)
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