HARLINGEN — A La Villa High School teacher was arrested on a charge of possession of crack cocaine, Harlingen Police said Tuesday.
Paul Jason Duke, 49, a resident of Harlingen, was charged with a state jail felony possession of a controlled substance.
Sgt. David Osborne said officers from the Special Investigations Unit conducted surveillance at a house in the 800 block of North D Street in response to numerous Crimestoppers tips about suspected narcotics activity there. At 1:15 p.m. on July 22, officers saw a gray vehicle leave the residence and stopped it a short distance away.
Officers spoke with the driver, identified as Duke, who gave them permission to search his car, Osborne said. Police found .01 ounces of crack cocaine on the car’s floor.
Duke was released on $20,000 bond, Osborne said.
La Villa school district human resources director Gregoria Nunez confirmed that Duke is currently employed by the school district, and said the district does background checks on all its employees, but it did not provide additional information about Duke.
According to the Texas Board of Teacher Certification’s website, Duke is certified to teach secondary school biology and English.
As recently as May 16, Duke taught a seminar titled “Using Interactive Whiteboards with Science Equipment and Student Response Systems” at a Region 1 Education Service Center technology conference on South Padre Island, according to Region 1’s website.
A check of public records on Duke shows that in July 1992, he faced a Class A misdemeanor charge of theft by check. The charge was dismissed when he made restitution.
In April 1997, he was charged with a Class B misdemeanor charge of theft by check, which was dismissed when he made restitution, according to public records.
Also in April 1997, public records show he was convicted of a Class B misdemeanor of driving without a valid license and was fined $200, assessed $214 in court costs, and placed on six months probation.
In March 2003, Duke was charged with criminal trespass, public records show. He was convicted and credited for time served in a subsequent case in 2004.
Duke was charged in June 2004 in connection with a burglary of a habitation, but the charges were dismissed in 404th state District Court when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
He pleaded no contest to a July 2004 charge of theft of property of more than $50 but less than $500, according to court records. At that time he was sentenced 150 days in jail, but was given credit for time served.
Court records also show that Duke in September 2004 pleaded no contest to a charge of theft of property between $500 and $1,500. He was sentenced to 140 days in jail and credited with time served.
Court records also show that the state had taken legal action in a civil matter from 2003 through 2009.