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The Pharr Police Department arrested a former Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office administrator Tuesday on forgery and credit card abuse charges.
Investigators arrested former Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Jose A. Padilla, 59, of Weslaco — a key player in the scandal that sent former Sheriff Lupe Treviño to federal prison — on Tuesday afternoon.
“My client has actually cooperated with this investigation,” attorney Javier Peña said Wednesday, when Padilla appeared in court.
Adalberto Campero of Mission, who owns Unimex Logistics, transferred money to Mexico during his messy divorce, Peña said, adding that Adalberto Campero attempted to conceal the transfers by blaming employees.
“Mr. Campero is likely funneling money into Mexico in violation of both state and federal law,” Peña said. “And I believe all that will come out, and we’ll ultimately be able to prove that Mr. Padilla is innocent of these charges.”
The criminal complaint against Padilla, however, doesn’t mention any money transferred to Mexico.
Padilla said “that the company owed him money and that he used the company card to make purchases to reimburse himself,” according to the criminal complaint.
Adalberto Campero’s brother, attorney Adolfo Campero, said that Padilla isn’t telling the truth.
“Unimex Logistics is a trucking and logistics company that supports cross-border business of multinational companies. It has clients and a sister company in Mexico, so it engages in numerous international transactions, almost on a daily basis. All of these operations are done under the guidance of accountants and lawyers,” Adolfo Campero said. “We stand by the legitimacy of everything that we do, and we place no weight on the desperate statements of a convicted felon.”
Adalberto Campero said he didn’t authorize the purchases, according to court records. He also accused Padilla of providing him with ammunition. As a person convicted of a felony, Padilla is prohibited from possessing ammunition.
Padilla is the brother of former Donna Independent School District police Chief Roy Padilla and the cousin of former city of Donna police Chief Ruben “Ram” De Leon.
He joined the Sheriff’s Office in June 1989 and became a commander under Sheriff Guadalupe “Lupe” Treviño.
Padilla was a key player in a corruption scandal that rocked the Sheriff’s Office in 2014.
He confessed to accepting cash from Tomas “El Gallo” Gonzalez, a Weslaco-based drug trafficker, according to federal court records. Padilla delivered the cash to Treviño.
Padilla, though, also kept money for himself.
“PADILLA stated that through the years he may have kept approximately between $90,000.00 and $100,000.00 provided by GONZALEZ,” according to a report prepared by the Texas Rangers, which summarized a February 2014 meeting between Padilla and federal agents.
After he struck a plea agreement with prosecutors, Padilla pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe. U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced him to 38 months in prison.
Serious questions about Padilla’s credibility surfaced during the investigation, but Gonzalez and another man, Julio Davila, also confessed to providing the sheriff with cash. Treviño resigned and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons released Padilla in September 2017. He moved to Weslaco and accepted a job with Unimex Logistics.
Adalberto Campero contacted the Pharr Police Department in February, concerned about unauthorized spending by employees.
Investigators linked Padilla to unauthorized credit card transactions, including $151.55 at a department store in Austin and $575.52 at a grocery store in McAllen, according to court records.
Padilla is charged with 10 counts of credit card or debit card abuse, a state jail felony, and three counts of forgery, a state jail felony.