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This article originally appeared in the Friday May 31, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
A judge dismissed felony assault charges against an IDEA Public Schools principal last week.
State District Judge Fernando Mancias dismissed felony assault charges against Jose Luis DeLeon, 44, of Edcouch on May 23. DeLeon is the principal of IDEA Quest College Prep, which is located in northwest Edinburg.
McAllen Police Department investigators arrested DeLeon in June 2015 after a fight at Cursilerias, a bar and grill in north McAllen.
At about 2 a.m., an off-duty police officer attempted to stop a fight, according to McAllen Municipal Court records. When the off-duty-police officer intervened, DeLeon placed him in a chokehold and another man attacked him with a beer bottle.
The off-duty police officer suffered “a severe laceration above the right eye” and had blood running down his face when investigators arrived. A bouncer also suffered serious injuries, including a neck wound that required hospitalization.
DeLeon pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault on a public servant, a first-degree felony, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony.
“Some of you may have heard a report on allegations that I was involved in an altercation with an off-duty police officer,” DeLeon wrote in an email to IDEA Quest employees after the arrest. “I write to inform you that I am innocent of all charges and allegations made against me, concerning this incident which took place off school grounds. When the truth comes out, I am confident that my name will be restored.”
Delays plagued the case from the beginning. Public corruption charges against a judge and the off-duty officer further derailed the proceedings last year.
In February 2018, federal agents charged state District Judge Rudy Delgado, who presided over the case, with bribery. He resigned April 30.
Less than two weeks later, federal agents arrested Donna school district police Officer Juan Fernando Mata — the off-duty police officer that DeLeon had been charged with assaulting — on drug trafficking charges. A federal judge sentenced Mata to nearly 11 years in prison.
“It kind of put us in a more difficult position,” said Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez.
“There was never an issue that he was innocent,” Salinas said.