If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
A federal task force on Monday arrested a former Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office commander accused of forgery and credit card abuse.
The Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Fugitive Task Force arrested former Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Jose A. Padilla, 59, of Weslaco on Monday morning, said Juan Lara, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.
Padilla — who pleaded guilty to bribery during the scandal that sent former Sheriff Lupe Treviño to prison — is accused of violating the terms of his federal probation by associating with a felon and stealing money from Pharr-based Unimex Logistics, where he worked after serving a three-year prison sentence.
“They’re claiming that he misused a credit card,” said attorney Javier Peña, who represents Padilla. “But he was specifically authorized to use that credit card.”
The federal task force arrested Padilla on Monday morning in Weslaco.
Dressed in blue athletic shorts and a blue t-shirt, Padilla appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Juan F. Alanis on Tuesday morning. Padilla shuffled across the courtroom with his left hand cuffed to his waist.
Alanis summarized the allegations and set bond at $5,000.
Padilla is accused of associating with Milagros M. Gomez, 36, of Weslaco and Kathy J. Morales, 31, of McAllen, who worked with him at Pharr-based Unimex Logistics.
They’re charged with stealing thousands from the company by making unauthorized credit card purchases at Dillard’s, H-E-B and other stores, according to Pharr Municipal Court records.
“Gomez admitted that she and Padilla were convicted felons and socialized outside the workplace,” according to a criminal complaint against Padilla, “and that she was aware that Padilla had made attempts to purchase ammunition using the company card.”
Adalberto Campero, who owns Unimex Logistics, confirmed that he received ammunition from Padilla, according to Pharr Municipal Court records.
After reviewing the allegations, a Pharr Police Department investigator arrested Padilla on three counts of forgery and 10 counts of credit card or debit card abuse. He faces a maximum of two years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000 for each charge.
The criminal charges and allegations contained in court records, however, pose another problem for Padilla. In November 2014, when he was sentenced to 38 months in prison, the judgment against Padilla included three years probation.
Federal law prohibits anyone on probation from associating with felons or people engaged in criminal activity.
Gomez is a felon and Morales is facing theft and forgery charges in state district court. Along with Padilla, they’re also accused of stealing money from Unimex Logistics through a series of unauthorized credit card transactions.
Padilla waived his preliminary hearing on the probation violations and posted a $5,000 bond Tuesday. He is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on Sept. 27 for a final hearing on the probation violations.
This article originally appeared in the Friday Sept. 20, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.