Son of prominent SA jeweler finally faces jail time after multiple DWI convictions
James Preston Green, 37, being held without bail at jail
SAN ANTONIO – The son of a prominent local jeweler who so far has avoided jail time despite his four drunken driving convictions is now looking at years behind bars after a judge on Friday signed off on a motion to revoke his probation.
James Preston Green, 37 -- the son of Jimmy Green, owner of J. Green Jewelers and a former El Rey Feo -- was sentenced to six years of community supervision under a plea agreement during an Oct. 24 hearing for his fifth DWI arrest and fourth conviction.
That same day, Green's father posted a photo of Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood captioned, "Nico La Hood’s mens bible study the best I ever attend!!! Men come join us!!!"
READ THE ORIGINAL REPORT: 5 DWI arrests, 4 convictions, no jail time for son of prominent SA jeweler
The district attorney's office said that the plea agreement "was in the best interest of the victim, the defendant, and the community," and one 379th District Court Judge Ron Rangel approved.
Less than two months after approving the lenient sentence, Rangel signed off on a motion to revoke Green's probation, citing five violations over two days earlier this month.
On Tuesday, Green was booked on a warrant for his arrest and is being held without bail.
Green violates conditions of community supervision
According to court documents, Green drank alcohol on Dec. 6 and tested positive for alcohol on three occasions on Dec. 7.
The motion states Green, on the morning of Dec. 7, registered a breath alcohol concentration of 0.054 on a portable monitor he was required to have through the conditions of his probation. Later that morning, Green registered a BrAC of 0.057 on his Breathalyzer system installed on the ignition of his vehicle. Later that afternoon, Green registered a BrAC of 0.012 at around 1 p.m. through the same system.
Plea agreement approved without presentencing investigation
Records released to the KSAT 12 Defenders Tuesday revealed Rangel approved the deal without a presentencing investigation having been completed, something sources told the Defenders was "highly unusual," especially given that Green was prosecuted under a repeat drunken driver enhancement.
The PSI is an investigation into the defendant, conducted by a probation officer, for purposes of making a sentencing recommendation to either a prosecutor or a judge. From the investigation, a report containing the defendant's background, education, criminal history, details to criminal offenses and more is then distributed to the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney.
It is traditionally the state that orders the PSI as it allows prosecutors to make an informed sentencing recommendation. It appears the investigation was never ordered.
District Attorney disagrees with prosecutor's decision to offer plea deal
LaHood on Tuesday contradicted an earlier statement from his office regarding how the case was handled.
In November, District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Alexandra Zepeda sent the following written statement to KSAT:
Based on the facts and circumstances surrounding the defendant's cases the handling prosecutor determined that placing the defendant on community supervision was in the best interest of the victim, the defendant, and the community. Mr. Green will be strictly supervised with appropriate conditions for the next six years. If he fails to comply with the court's orders his community supervision may be revoked and his sentence of confinement will be imposed.
LaHood said via phone on Tuesday, however, that he did not know about the plea agreement in advance and that after reviewing Green's case, he doesn't agree with the plea bargain Green was offered.
LaHood said he has no personal connection to Green, although Green told officers during his most recent arrest, "How about Nico LaHood? How about that for my f---ing lawyer? That's my f---ing lawyer, Nico LaHood. Yeah. Yeah. That's what I f---ing thought," adding that he'd be contacting LaHood about his arrest.
With approximately 200 prosecutors in his office who handle more than 50,000 cases annually, LaHood said there is no realistic way for him to micromanage cases, striking down the suggestion Green may have received preferential treatment.
Judge defends handling of case
Rangel defended his handling of the case Tuesday, stating that Green's case was one of 50 he presided over that day and that he didn't know who Green was.
He also elaborated on his role in plea agreements. He said he has only denied two plea bargains in his time as a judge and that those cases were later dismissed due to flaws in the case.
"When the plea bargain comes before the judge, the only thing that the judge is doing is ensuring that the defendant is knowingly saying that they give up all of their constitutional rights to enter in this agreement," Rangel said. "Beyond that, judges cannot know anything about the facts of the case other than there is sufficient evidence to sustain a finding of guilt.”
Rangel said he only has the power to reject a plea bargain agreement when he believes the defendant does not know what they are agreeing to.
“Anytime there's an official circumstance where the judge 'accepts' the plea bargain, its not that the judge actually says 'I agree with the end result of this case. I agree that each side has found the part that is just.' All the judge is saying is the defendant has knowingly given up their rights.”
5 DWI arrests since 2008
Arrest records compiled by the Defenders from Bexar, Comal and Guadalupe counties show Preston Green has been arrested on suspicion of DWI five times since 2008.
Records show a 2008 DWI arrest in Bexar County was taken into consideration and dismissed in January 2011, after Green agreed to plead guilty in a 2009 DWI case in Bexar County.
Four months later, in May 2011, Green was arrested for DWI-2nd, and misdemeanor marijuana possession in Comal County.
Green pleaded no contest in January 2012 but his probation was extended in February 2014, according to Comal County court records.
By then, Green had landed a fourth DWI charge after being arrested in Guadalupe County in March 2013, records show.
In that incident, Green was also charged with evading arrest and tampering with physical evidence.
Records show he was convicted of DWI-3rd or more, a felony, in November 2013, but his 10-year prison sentence was suspended.
Green's criminal history in Bexar County also includes multiple charges for evading arrest and a disorderly conduct conviction, as well as a misdemeanor drug possession charge and a family violence charge that were later dismissed.
Green drunkenly crashes car in January
In his most recent DWI arrest, Green rear-ended a vehicle at Wurzbach Parkway near Nacogdoches Road, then ran from the scene. Police caught up to Green and pepper-sprayed him after he attempted to run from officers, the crash report states.
As authorities walked him back to the scene, he claimed someone carjacked him at gunpoint at Sam's Burger Joint and that he crashed the vehicle as an attempt to get away from the carjacker, according to the report.
"But why would a carjacker drive from Sam's Burger Joint toward his parents house?" an investigator wrote in the report, adding that Green was visibly intoxicated and that his story wasn't believable.
Video from the back seat of the patrol car shows Green slurring as he repeated his story that he was carjacked.
"I was kidnapped," Green says in the back seat of the police vehicle while in handcuffs. "I was kidnapped at Sam's Burger Joint as I was getting in my car. Then I got my a-- beat, but no one's listening to me."
Green's fate now in judge's hands
While prosecutors with the district attorney's office played a large role in Green's fate relating to his January charges, his future is now in Rangel's hands because he violated the conditions of his probation.
"Once (a defendant) is on probation, then everything changes over to the jurisdiction of the judge," Rangel said. "At that point, it's up to the judge to make a determination on if they believe it was a violation of community supervision and what is appropriate."
Rangel said that he can either sentence Green to two to six years behind bars, or allow him to continue his community supervision and add new conditions to his probation. He said he will hear both the prosecutor's side and Green's attorney's side at a hearing for the motion to revoke Green's community supervision. Green's hearing has been scheduled for January 3, 2019.
"He'll be in custody until our hearing, then it's up to me to give him what's fair," Rangel said.
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