One of the largest criticisms that I receive is that I’m always pointing out El Paso’ rampant corruption while ignoring the city’s “safest city” designation. The criticisms center on the notion that I hate El Paso. The truth is that I’m angry about what I see as rampant corruption while the city leaders and politicians try to hide it behind a façade of “It’s All Good” El Paso. Just last week I debated a lady on Facebook about the fallacy of the “safest city” designation. Even pointing out that the FBI discourages the use of its data to create city rankings the user decided to try and distract that truth by attempting to bait me into an argument about statistics. Even when I point out the facts, certain individuals refuse to accept them and instead try to distract with hyperbole. Last Sunday, on January 26, 2014, the El Paso Times published an article titled; “Federal investigations: Culture of corruption unveiled in El Paso” by Marty Schladen.

Schladen interviewed Robert Pitman, the US Attorney for the Western District that includes El Paso. Pitman confirmed what I had written before that the public corruption scandals in El Paso were far from over. In fact, Schladen quotes him as stating that as one set of scandals are closing, another was opening. Clearly corruption is still a problem however you’ll notice that the majority of politicians currently running for office don’t bother to mention the problem of public corruption except, in a few cases, to sign self-serving promises of cleaning up government.

Notice also how the article points out, according to the US Attorney Pitman, that his office had identified “a problem that seemed to have been fairly pervasive in county government”. The last two county judges in a row, Dolores Briones and Anthony Cobos have pleaded guilty to public corruption. I would expect that the current county judge, Veronica Escobar, other than making self-serving speeches about not being corrupt would have done something by now to alleviate the public’s distrust in county government.

In fact, when given an opportunity to do the right thing in regards to public corruption she, instead did the politically expedient thing for her, she voted to keep a lying medical examiner on the taxpayers’ dole longer than necessary. It is easy to make speeches about not being corrupt but a very different thing to actually do the right thing when it’s necessary.

Paul Shrode had been proven to have lied to a court jeopardizing the integrity of the judicial system and in the process jeopardizing the lives of those accused of a crime. When confronted with these sets of facts, Veronica Escobar chose to protect her political needs and voted to keep him employed at the county.

I have also argued for many years that there exists a nexus between the drug cartel battles in Juárez and El Paso’s corruption. For the first time, the El Paso Times has allowed that nexus to be publicly admitted. In the article, after pointing out the Zeta’s quarter-horse racing prosecution Pitman stated that people in El Paso had“awareness” that corruption was the “norm”. Pitman related how someone, who worked for one of the convicted individuals, had stated that no one seemed to think it was wrong that vendors routinely dropped off gifts.

I have also previously written about how there exists a culture in El Paso where a gift is expected around Christmas time. El Paso business is based on the scratch-your-back mentality. There were many cases where I lost out to more expensive providers because I didn’t know how to play the game properly. I didn’t know it at the time but I came to find out later. I was even once told that my prices were too low by a competitor who told me, spend some time with me and I’ll show you how it’s done.

I didn’t take him up on the offer.

I have shared with you how I was black-listed by potential customers, with the full knowledge of politicians because I wouldn’t stay quiet. Sito Negron admitted to me as much during a telephone call once, and guess what? He now works for a politician.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, notice the answer Pitman gives Schladen when the reporter asks the US Attorney, “what do you hope the public has learned?”

Pitman responded that he hopes “there will be structural changes in how things are done”. Pitman added that there are things that can be done to “increase transparency”. Notice that Pitman didn’t state, now that we’ve done our job, the leaders of El Paso have implemented structural changes. He didn’t state that El Paso leadership has increased transparency. Instead what he clearly stated is that changes in how government business is done have not been implemented and that transparency hasn’t been instituted.

What does that say about Veronica Escobar? Here is the US Attorney stating that structural changes are needed at the county.

Pitman goes on to state that the federal government has a “limited jurisdiction” adding that they “can only investigate and prosecute things that are violations of federal law”. Now ask yourself, how many successful public corruption cases under state law has Jaime Esparza prosecuted?

Let’s see, the federal government agrees that public corruption is pervasive at the county. It also agrees that structural changes to circumvent the corruption have not been implemented. We have Veronica Escobar and Jaime Esparza in positions of authority at the county to prosecute and implement structural changes and what have they done? Nothing.

That’s right nothing, other than to pontificate about what’s good about their tenures in office.

However the most poignant thing in the article, at least for me, is when Schladen asked Pitman whether the media played a role in the scandal. The best Pitman could say about the media is that they played a role in “highlighting” and “communicating” what the “prosecutions” have accomplished. In other words, and between the lines, it was the work of the federal government that exposed the corruption and it had nothing to do with the media’s job of investigative reporting.

Although he doesn’t say it, I believe Marty Schladen was hoping for a quote saying that the El Paso Times was instrumental in the public corruption scandal what he got instead was a public relations canned answer saying that they communicated the work of the prosecutors.

And there, right there is the reason public corruption continues in El Paso because the media trumpets up the party of line of “it’s all good” El Paso rather than exposing the truth that is the corruption of El Paso.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

4 replies on “The US Attorney and El Paso Public Corruption”

  1. You hit the nail on the head. I noted too the sanctimonious attitude of the reporter. It’s as if he was an angel saddened by the work of the devil. Please. EPT is the primary enabler of the corruption.

  2. There is little or none investigative journalism here. If anything, the press has been the cheerleader for corrupt practices like the stadium, the biggest back room deal in local history.

  3. Mr. Pitman should be ashamed of himself.

    He was well aware of the theatrics of El Paso, and instead of following the law and his responsibility; he appears to have chosen to become part of the game by allowing it to happen under his watch. How sad!

    Instead of his self-serving public declarations; Mr. Pitman should be, if he has not done so, taking to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice.

    To his credit, Mr. Pitman has timidly shuffled some of his personnel out of El Paso. However, instead of a cleansing this appears only to be a cover-up; and he should rest assured that this thing just won’t go away.

    Martin has provided us with information of how several pleas have been reversed by the Fifth. It now appears that plenty more reversals are coming down the pipes. Probably soon all of them will be reversed. However, Martin should also bring to light the reason why the convictions are being reversed by the superior courts.

    Simply stated, the law got broken. Yes, by the Honorable Judge Frank Montalvo; we know that. However, it was also broken by the District Attorney’s office. It takes two to Tango!

    The Judge Montalvo-DA alliance, or “Team”, has become an ironclad foe. No defender has any chance against it (the truth did not matter, only the desired results by the powers to be). No matter what we think of Chilo, Sonny, Tony, Lorenzo, Betty, etc., they stood no chance against the “Team”. Independent of other relations that we will be analyzing soon like that between Veronica Escobar and the DA; Mr. Ruiz Sr. /the Republican Party / Judge Montalvo /The DA’s office /Ace Greenberg/ George Bush / Texas Republicans; there is the issue of the Constitution of the United States.

    The Honorable Judge Montalvo and the District Attorney violated the Constitution of the United States.

    Also, and unbeknown to most American Citizens there is a Rule of Criminal Procedure 404b. Under this rule the Government can place in front of the jury previous criminal acts of the indicted. This rule, and the jurisprudence of it, have certain limitations as could be expected. But with a friendly judge, a corrupt abusive prosecutor can say basically whatever it wants against the accused; it can bring stuff from many years back, true or false, does not matter. Be aware, if you are indicted and end up in Montalvo’s court you could be facing stories created by all your enemies during your entire life. Properly stated, you would be defending yourself from many accusations, a certainly impossible task, regardless of your financial resources. Oh, and the DA can notice you of the 404b only a few days before your trial!!! You will hang!

    An example of this mischievous practice done under Mr. Pitman is an accusation by the Catholic Church. After a tremendous effort and expense, the actual witness was found in a small village in South Central Mexico. It was all false, but Montalvo allowed this to be in front of the jury. There are many other ways how a judge can tilt the balance of justice one way or the other, and we will get into a few in this case, however, the only conclusion possible of the Poisoned Pawns fiasco is that innocent men may be incarcerated and felons are walking free with their pockets lined with millions of Dollars. Dollars that we El Pasoans will be paying for many decades.

    Or…has any of you seen an order by Montalvo to Bear Sterns (now JP Morgan Chase) to return our money, or cancel our illegally obtained notes?

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