BROWNSVILLE — A Cameron County grand jury has indicted former Brownsville fire chief Carlos Elizondo on one count of theft by a public servant and one count of misapplication of fiduciary property.
The grand jury handed down the indictment yesterday, one day after Elizondo was arrested on the charges in Brownsville.
The indictment pertains to a theft by a public servant complaint that was filed against him in August by the Brownsville Firefighters Association.
In the complaint, the association alleges that Elizondo made improper ATM cash withdrawals totaling $8,000 from the association’s political action committee while he was association president from January 2014 to 2016. He was not fire chief at the time. The complaint was filed by association president Jorge Lerma.
In an earlier interview, Elizondo denied the allegations and said the charges were filed against him for political reasons.
“It’s politically driven,” Elizondo said at the time. “It’s a direct attack. He’s the union president. It’s a ploy to attack my credibility and discredit me and the whole department.”
Count I of the indictment states that between May 22, 2010, and March 31, 2016, Elizondo did “then and there knowingly unlawfully appropriate, by exercising control over, property, to-wit: United States Currency, and/or its digital equivalent, of a value more than $1,500.00 but less than $20,000, from the Brownsville Firefighters Association Political Action Committee, also known as the Brownsville Firefighters for Responsible Government Political Action Committee, the owner thereof, without the consent of the owner, and with the intent to deprive the owner of property.”
The indictment states Elizondo was a Brownsville firefighter at the time the incident occurred and that “Such property appropriated by the defendant had therefore come into his custody, possession, or control by virtue of his status as a public servant.”
Count II of the indictment states that between May 22, 2010, and March 31, 2016, Elizondo did “then and there intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly misapply property, to-wit: United States Currency and/or its digital equivalence, of an amount with value of more than $20,000 but lest than $100,000 that the defendant held as a fiduciary or as a person acting in a fiduciary capacity, but not as a commercial bailee, contrary to a law prescribing the disposition of the property, to wit: Texas Election Code 253.031, and in a manner that involved substantial risk or loss of the property to the Brownsville Firefighters Association Political Action Committee, known as the Brownsville Firefighters for Responsible Government Political Action Committee, the owner of the property, and the person whose benefits the property was held, by making expenditures from the Brownsville Firefighters for Responsible Government Political Action Committee Bank Account(s.)”
Elizondo is being represented by Brownsville attorneys Noe Garza and Victor Ramirez. Neither could be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
According to Brownsville city officials, Elizondo has now been suspended without pay from the Brownsville Fire Department. He had previously been suspended with pay and was also demoted to lieutenant from fire chief.
“The City of Brownsville has placed Brownsville Fire Department Fire Lieutenant Carlos Elizondo on suspension without pay effective immediately, following two felony charges: Theft by a Public Servant and Misapplication of Fiduciary Property. Due to the ongoing investigation surrounding Carlos Elizondo, the City of Brownsville refers all inquiries to the District Attorney’s Office,” reads a statement from the city.