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MCISD trustee pleads not guilty to theft, forgery charges

Irma Patricia “Patty” Rivera (Bazaldua), vice president of the Mission CISD school board, plead not guilty Wednesday morning to two counts of theft and one count each of forgery and fraudulent use of identification.

Mission police first arrested Rivera in September, after her then-in laws filed complaints against her in June and July.

20150522 MCISD Patricia BazalduaRivera’s sister-in-law first met with Mission police investigators in June and stated an insurance agent approached her in April 2012 and asked her to verify a signature on an application for a $5,000 loan on her policy, according to a probable cause statement.

Michelle Bazaldua Peugh said she didn’t know anything about it, and the agent came to her workplace to show her the application. According to her affidavit, Peugh recognized the handwriting and suspected Rivera, but Peugh didn’t do anything because the money was not paid out to anyone.

Then, in May of this year, Peugh received a call from her mother, about a $5,000 loan in August 2012, Peugh stated in her affidavit. Peugh’s mom called the insurance company, requested a copy of the application and found someone forged her and her husband’s names, the affidavit states. The check had been mailed to Peugh’s parents’ address, and Peugh said Rivera lived next door at the time and always got the mail.

In the probable cause statement, the investigator states he found Rivera deposited a $5,000 check made out to Maribel Bazaldua in August 2012.

A separate probable cause statement signed Sept. 16, accuses Rivera of obtaining a credit card using information for Mario Bazaldua Sr. In July, he received a collection notice notifying him of an outstanding balance for an account he never authorized. A few days after making his first complaint to police, Mario Bazaldua Sr. provided a sworn statement that Rivera sold him an annuity with Woodmen of the World, and he had deposited $15,000. Several times, he told police, Rivera had him sign paperwork, telling him they were standard forms to keep his policy active, but he couldn’t read them because he cannot read English.

Mario Bazaldua Sr. told police there were two withdrawals from his annuity without his permission. Investigators found two checks made out to Mario Bazaldua Sr. and deposited in Rivera’s account, one for $3,320 and a second for $3,279.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 12 and a trial was set for June 15. If convicted, Bazaldua faces two to 10 years in prison on the two theft charges and 180 days to two years in prison for the forger and fraudulent identification charges.

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