Ex-fire chief Elizondo’s trial begins today

By LAURA B. MARTINEZ

Staff Writer

Opening statements and testimony will begin today in the trial of former Brownsville fire chief Carlos Elizondo, who is charged with six counts of computer security breach.

Elizondo has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A jury of eight women and four men, plus two alternates, was selected Monday morning in the 107th state District Court in Brownsville. The 14 were chosen from a jury pool of 120 Cameron County residents.

Elizondo faces six counts of computer security breach that pertain to allegations he accessed the Brownsville Fire Department Emergency Reporting System while suspended by the city and when he did not have the consent of the City of Brownsville to access the reporting system.

According to the six-count indictment, Elizondo allegedly accessed the reporting system multiple times in 2017 on Oct. 10, Nov. 7, Nov. 10, Nov. 13, Nov. 19 and Nov. 23.

Each count reads he “did then and there knowingly access by logging onto/into, a computer or computer network or computer system owned by the government, namely: the Emergency Reporting System portal for the Brownsville Fire Department, without the effective consent of the City of Brownsville, Texas, the owner.”

Elizondo, now with a beard, sat beside his attorney Eddie Lucio as the 120 potential jurors were brought in to Judge Benjamin Euresti Jr.’s courtroom. Elizondo’s wife, Cindy, sat behind him.

During jury selection, the jurors were asked if they were familiar with the case and if they could be impartial jurors.

They were also questioned if they knew either Carlos or Cindy Elizondo. They were also asked if they knew some of the individuals the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office planned to call as witnesses, such as the former Brownsville city manager, Charlie Cabler, and Justin Oakerson, owner of Intercity Ambulance.

Many potential jurors said they knew or were familiar with Cabler.

Lucio stated he plans to call two witnesses, and the majority of the jurors indicated they didn’t know them.

The trial is expected to last about one week, and Euresti reminded the jurors they are not to discuss the case with family members or friends and to refrain from reading or watching any news coverage of the trial. He also asked that the jurors stay off social media while the trial is ongoing.

Elizondo faces a separate indictment accusing him of theft and misapplication of fiduciary duty over allegations he stole from the firefighters association. He has also pleaded not guilty to those charges. Those charges are pending.