7 Yzaguirre charges dropped, 15 counts remain

CORPUS CHRISTI — Seven charges were dropped against Tax Assessor-Collector Tony Yzaguirre yesterday morning after the defense argued that dealership title transfers have different rules.

Prosecutors allege that Yzaguirre took $1,100 in bribes over the course of the Texas Department of Public Safety investigation, $100 for each vehicle illegally processed.

However, as lead defense attorney Eddie Lucio pointed out, the tax office does not need a photo ID or proof of insurance if a dealer is doing the application. DPS Special Agent Rene Olivarez said he was not aware of this difference until weeks before the trial began.

Yzaguirre is now charged with eight counts of bribery, six counts of abuse of official capacity, and one count of official oppression.

When DPS informant Mel Sosa took the stand Monday morning, he clarified that he had been a dealer for about seven or eight years, but not since 2004 or 2005.

Law enforcement asked whether he was a dealer an “infinity of times,” Sosa testified.

“Would it surprise you if Agent Olivarez said he didn’t know about the dealer distinction?” Asked Lucio.

Sosa was not surprised. He said he tried to explain that distinction to agents when he was initially arrested by law enforcement on nine counts, all felonies, for falsifying records and documents.

“Maybe he didn’t understand me because he didn’t know how it was done,” Sosa said.

Lucio questioned if Sosa had told anyone else about the difference in how title transfers work between a dealer and regular person.

Sosa believes he mentioned it to prosecutors, too, he said.

In the time that Lucio cross-examined Sosa, Sosa did say there was a possibility Yzaguirre could have assumed he was still a dealer.

“Is it fair to say that some people still have that perception of you?” Lucio asked.

Sosa replied in the affirmative, and said some are not aware he is no longer a dealer.

The trial continues this morning.