(One imagines this will give the Sheriff less leverage with the District Attorney to convince her to allow new jail overcrowding solutions to proceed.)
Lopez, a Democrat, claims the Republican DA (with whom, incidentally, I've frequently disagreed) is pursuing him for partisan reasons. But I tend to doubt the Sheriff would have been indicted if he hadn't so defiantly defended his long-time campaign aide in the face of damning evidence.
Now Sheriff Lopez is on the hook, whatever happens - any opportunity to distance himself from the scandal has passed. According to the San Antonio Express News ("Lopez indicted on three counts," Aug. 17):
The indictments accused Lopez of accepting and failing to report a gift and an "honorarium" — both involving the same 2005 all-expenses paid golfing/fishing trip to Costa Rica — from a company he helped get the contract to run his jail's food commissaries.I don't know anything more about the case than what's been reported in the press, but at least we now know for sure that Bexar judges know what a personal bond is and how to issue them. Sometimes I wonder. Misdemeanants in Bexar County who don't happen to be the Sheriff typically aren't so lucky.
In particular, the indictments allege that he solicited and accepted food, lodging, transportation and entertainment, including golfing and fishing, from two officials of Louisiana-based Premier Management Enterprises, which now runs the commissaries. One indictment labels the trip as a gift to a public servant; the other an "honorarium," or informal payment, that "was in consideration for services that the defendant would not have been requested to provide but for defendant's official position and duties." The third charges that he failed to report the gift on his personal financial disclosure form.
Lopez remains in office, as allowed by law for an official under indictment, but if found guilty, Lopez would be automatically disqualified for service and could end up behind bars.
Despite warrants issued for his arrest Thursday, Lopez never had to join his prisoners. After reporting to a judge, he was allowed to remain free on a personal recognizance bond.
The charges are the first to surface as part of a wider-ranging public corruption probe that District Attorney Susan Reed said focuses on the relationship between Premier, Lopez, his longtime campaign manager John Reynolds, members of a nonprofit board the sheriff set up and appointed to run the jail commissaries, and others. Attorneys for Premier did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
After testifying under subpoena for 45 minutes before the grand jury Thursday morning, Lopez said, "I've done nothing wrong."
A Democrat who recently announced he would run for re-election next year, Lopez called the 18-month investigation by Republican Reed "a political witch hunt."