San Antonio

Barrientes Vela’s former clerk says constable was ‘rattled’ by 2019 visit from Texas Ranger

SAN ANTONIO – A former Precinct 2 clerk who supplied crucial info to legislation enforcement concerning the interior workings of Michelle Barrientes Vela’s administration testified Thursday that the then-constable was left “rattled” after studying she was below prison investigation in the summertime of 2019.

“She was really upset and then all of her administration went into the conference room,” stated Susan Tristan, who stated Barrientes Vela later ordered her to make a number of copies of data for pavilion leases at Rodriguez Park.

Barrientes Vela, whose scandal-plagued 33 months as Bexar County Precinct 2 constable led to October 2019, is charged with two felony counts of tampering with proof.

Thursday marked day three of testimony in a trial that’s anticipated to final nicely into subsequent week.

Prosecutors particularly allege that Barrientes Vela tampered with safety fee logs for Rodriguez Park after which turned over a false set of data to legislation enforcement who had been investigating whether or not she had shaken down a person for money after he had rented the pavilion on Easter 2019.

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She faces as much as 10 years in jail if convicted, and faces a number of counts of official oppression as a part of the identical indictment.

Tristan stated shortly after the Easter incident passed off that the then-constable created a brand new model of her office’s settlement to supply safety throughout occasions on the West Side park.

Tristan described a piece atmosphere during which Barrientes Vela ceaselessly yelled at her and blamed her for not understanding how many individuals had been displaying up on the rented pavilions.

She testified that after the Easter 2019 incident, Barrientes Vela requested her to fill in new info on Rodriguez Park money logs.

Tristan described the calls for for data as “too much” and the work as “messy,” stating that the method was interfering together with her different duties.

Tristan acknowledged {that a} vital period of time that summer season was spent altering and compiling these data.

Tristan stated she resigned shortly after the Texas Rangers and FBI raided the constable’s Northwest Side places of work in September 2019.

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By then, nonetheless, Tristan had already spoken extensively with legislation enforcement. A prosecutor earlier this week referred to her as a “county whistleblower.”

Defense legal professional Jason Goss was capable of get Tristan to concede that the data didn’t include ink from totally different coloured pens, a reference to prosecutor Dawn McCraw’s opening assertion during which she stated totally different pens had been used by Barrientes Vela to make it seem just like the data had been stuffed out over a time frame.

Tristan, whose almost daylong testimony stretched into the night, broke down in tears whereas recalling a dialog with Barrientes Vela during which the then-constable instructed her to “watch her back” and to get an legal professional.

The feedback from Barrientes Vela got here a day after a Texas Ranger served Barrientes Vela paperwork.

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“I needed to do something in that situation. I’m just a clerk. How do I go over an elected official?” testified Tristan, who stated she then took steps to make contact with the investigator, Ranger Bradley Freeman.

Judge Velia Meza denied a movement for mistrial from the protection, after Tristan stated that she felt she was working in a hostile working atmosphere.

Tristan and a second Precinct 2 clerk, Michael Villanueva, testified concerning the ‘make it up as you go along’ nature of Barrientes Vela’s tenure.

Villanueva stated he was falsely accused by members of Barrientes Vela’s administration of shredding an Easter rental settlement for a Rodriguez Park pavilion.

Villanueva instructed the jury one in every of Barrientes Vela’s final acts earlier than leaving office was to instruct him to destroy a lot of data.

It’s unclear whether or not any of these data pertain to the prison case towards her.

Villanueva, nonetheless, gave the jury the inaccurate date, stating that the order was given to him within the final week earlier than present constable Leticia Vazquez was sworn in at midnight on Jan. 1, 2020.

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Vazquez was really sworn within the second week of October 2019, after Barrientes Vela triggered the state’s resign-to-run legislation.

Villanueva was dismissed from the witness stand with out both aspect correcting him.

Day 4 of testimony is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

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