Armed Government Workers Use Asset Forfeiture to Fund Party Time

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Armed government workers in Palmview, TX have been caught using asset forfeiture to steal people’s money in order to fund the vacations of the armed government workers who performed the asset forfeiting:

“We were briefed by the Department of Justice that the asset forfeiture program has been suspended.” said City Manager Leonardo Olivares to News Center 23’s Derick Garcia. The program is being suspended temporarily because of stark program violations and compliance issues. “The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program (the Program) is a nationwide law enforcement initiative that removes the tools of crime from criminal organizations, deprives wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes, recovers property that may be used to compensate victims, and deters crime” and aids law enforcement with funding according to the DOJ’s Guide to Equitable Sharing. 

The suspension of the programs means the City of Palmview could lose funds. Olivares tells News Center 23, the city self reported the compliance issues to DOJ after issues surfaced while looking into its the department’s financial records. A March 29, 2018 memo to Barrera from Olivares, outlines several issues and “apparent serious federal program violations,” and a Barerra using public resources for private gain, “Chief has used the City’s resources for promoting his private company, DefenseCon, on facebook. On or about February 9, he also has utilized Asset Forfeiture funds for expenses related to attending the Annual HIDA (Hight Intensity Drug [Trafficking] Areas) Conference in Washington, D.C. Photos from the conference were used to promote DefenseCom on its facebook page.”

While the use of social media might not be troubling for some or fireable, one of the significant concerns outlined in the memo is focused on internal affairs investigations. “On March 14, 2004, Captain Saul Uvalle was the subject of an Internal Affairs (IA) investigations.” However, Capt. Uvalle was the IA Investigators and in custody of all IA files for the department. “Critical evidence in his file now is missing.” 

City Manager Olivares requested the city terminate Barrera’s employment. At the city’s council meeting Monday, it was a unanimous vote to end his employment. Prior to the vote, Barrera and his attorney were negotiating a severance. To add to the issue, Barrera filed a sexual harassment complaint against Olivares before the memo was sent. 

No clear timeline was given of when the DOJ would begin or conclude it’s review of the city’s asset program. 

To read the memo and fund violations: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4434202-Memo-on-PD-Operations.html

To read sexual harassment complaint. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4434197-Sexual-Harassment-Report.html

To read affidavit with text messages: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4434199-Leo-Olivares-Affidavit.html

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