Grand jury indicts RGC secretary for secret recording

Lyzette Pena

A grand jury indicted Rio Grande City’s city secretary following her arrest earlier this year on allegations she unlawfully recorded the conversations of three other city employees.

Lyzette Peña was indicted earlier this month on three counts of unlawful interception, use or disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications.

Peña is accused of allegedly placing a recording device in the office of the city’s human resources director on Sept. 6, 2019.

HR Director Valerie Brown allegedly discovered the recording device under her desk and later reported it to the city manager.

Following an investigation by the Starr County Special Crimes Unit, officers arrested Peña on the unlawful interception charge in January.

In August, Peña was arrested again on two more unlawful interception charges after two other individuals heard on the recording — police Chief Noe Castillo and police officer Juan Perez — stated they did not consent to being recorded and provided affidavits for the investigation.

A grand jury handed down a three-count indictment on those three charges on Nov. 6.

After her initial arrest in January, the city placed Peña on administrative paid leave but during a city commissioners meeting in August, the commissioners considered terminating her.

Ultimately, the commissioners were prevented in going through with it as Peña’s attorney, Juan Sonny Palacios Jr., filed a temporary restraining order against the city.

The petition for the restraining order argued the commissioners were attempting to fire Peña in retaliation for a grievance she filed against then-City Commissioner Dave “Chachi” Jones.

Her case is still ongoing in state district court.