Deputy constables fired in training record fiasco win back jobs as blame shifts to constable

Civil service commission reinstates both deputies with no back pay

SAN ANTONIO – Two deputy constables with the Bexar County Precinct 2 Constable’s Office have won back their jobs after the county’s Civil Service Commission voted to overturn their terminations, according to human resources records obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Deputies Leonicio Moreno and Chris De La Cerda were reinstated to the agency with no back pay and no break in service following a June 21 hearing.

Moreno was returned to duty, effective June 22, following the nearly day-long hearing in front of the commission.

Commissioners deliberated slightly more than an hour before voting unanimously to side with Moreno, who was terminated in early March after a state investigation determined he had falsified training records for himself and other members of the agency.

Moreno during a single day last October logged 22 training hours, state records confirm.

Questions had also been raised by state investigators about why credit for a drug incinerator course last August appeared on the training records of Moreno, De La Cerda and other members of the agency even though the course had been canceled.

Multiple members of the agency told investigators that even though they had watched drugs being incinerated outside Precinct 2 headquarters the day in question, they were not tested about what they had seen.

Moreno testified during the hearing that he had been set up to fail as Precinct 2's training coordinator, in part, because Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela had forbid him from talking to the agency's previous training coordinator, Deputy Raymond Ford.

"I didn't know all the rules for what the coordinator was supposed to do. I feel it's partly her fault," Moreno testified during the hearing. "To be blunt, at the time she wanted to fire him and we weren't allowed to associate with him."

Ford, a former chief deputy and administrative captain for Precinct 2, testified during the hearing that Barrientes Vela stripped him of his training duties after she took office in 2017.

"Until you've done it, it's a challenge," Ford testified, when asked about the responsibilities that go with being a training coordinator.

Moreno and De La Cerda in March received written reprimands from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and Moreno surrendered his law enforcement instructor's certificate, according to state records.

TCOLE records show that at least five other deputies from Precinct 2 have received notices of violations related to training non-compliance since the start of 2018.

De La Cerda, who testified during Moreno's civil service hearing last month, returned to duty July 5 after signing a settlement agreement.

Like Moreno, De La Cerda was reinstated with no back pay and no break in service.

Neither deputy responded to requests for comment for this story.

Barrientes Vela at first agreed to answer questions on camera, before she stopped responding to emails from the Defenders attempting to set a date and time for the interview.

In a Facebook post from Barrientes Vela shortly after the commission announced its decision, she wrote that she disagreed with it.

“This ruling saden (sic) me that some individuals do not believe in holding Officers accountable for their actions as they are held to a high standard,” wrote Barrientes Vela.

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.