The Telles family in El Paso, who were heavily involved in the city’s politics through the late 1990’s, are again facing another controversy. The family’s political dynasty, which can be traced back to Raymond L. Telles, El Paso first Hispanic mayor, devolved into political infighting and public corruption. The Telles family traces its roots back to the 1800’s when Ricardo Telles, a Spaniard, made Ysleta his home. Generations later, it was three brothers who cemented the political dynasty of the Telleses in El Paso.
They were Joe, Raymond and Richard Telles. Raymond L. Telles, the eldest of the three, became the Hispanic mayor of El Paso in 1957. In 1961, he was named the ambassador to Costa Rica by John F. Kennedy. Richard Telles, the youngest served as a school board trustee and a county commissioner.
With the political identity came controversy involving family squabbles and criminal convictions. The Telles family counts among them several Telleses with the same or similar names making it confusing to know who is who in the controversies. According to bankruptcy records from 1990 for W. E. Clarke Enterprises, which owned a string of liquor stores named the Barrel House, it was Richard Telles, Sr. who started the company that became central to the mayoral race in 1997, between Raymond Telles and Carlos Ramirez.
It was also the start of a family public squabble with the elder Telles accusing his son, Raymond R. Telles of lying about his business accomplishments when he was running for mayor. Raymond Telles, who lost to Carlos Ramirez had said he had started the family liquor business, while his father said that his son was just an employee of the company.
Raymond Telles who served to two terms at city council and lost to Ramirez, partly on the lack of a college degree later went on to become a lawyer. In March 2008, Raymond Telles pleaded guilty to bribery charges in the far-reaching public corruption scandal known as Poisoned Pawns.
Raymond Telles’ son, Robert Telles is now the one making headlines in the murder of a journalist.
The Murdered Journalist
After Robert Telles lost his reelection campaign for public administrator of Clark County, journalist Jeff German was stabbed to death. According to prosecutors, Robert Telles stabbed German, killing him because Telles blamed German for his election loss.
Robert Telles was arrested on September 7, 2022 for the murder of German. Telles, who is on his fourth attorney, now wants to represent himself in court, arguing that he was “framed” for the murder. Telles says that police “planted” the evidence against him.
The evidence against Telles seems substantial. There is his DNA found under the fingernails of the victim and security camera pictures. The motive for the murder, according to the prosecution has sensationalized the crime across the nation. During the 2022 political campaign to keep his office, a series of exposés were published by Jeff German in the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Telles – who was elected in 2018 – made it known that the position of public administrator was a “steppingstone” to governor. That is until German published the news reports that Telles blames for losing his reelection campaign.
Politics Exposed The Alleged Affair
It was politics that exposed an alleged affair that led to the murder. An employee of Telles who is critical of his management style took it upon herself to follow Telles’ subordinate, Roberta Lee-Kennett and make a grainy video of them in what appears to be proof that they were engaged in an affair.
A month before the primary, German published the grainy video of the alleged affair and a story detailing disfunction within the elected office. In June, Telles lost his reelection campaign to one of his subordinates. On September 3, German’s body was found.
In addition to the DNA evidence, the prosecutors have presented video that allegedly shows Telles murdering German. The video shows a man dressed in orange, stabbing German.
In addition to the security camera video, prosecutors have also collected a hat and tennis shoes that they say proves Telles committed the murder.
Telles’ trial is scheduled for November, however his recent request to represent himself in court may delay the trial further.
Meanwhile, at least one member of the family is contemplating changing her name and another, Cynthia Ann Telles was recently appointed the ambassador to Costa Rica, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Raymond L. Telles. Robert Telles is the son of Raymond Rutherford Telles who pleaded guilty in 2008.
El Paso News will continue to cover the trial and report new information as it become available.