2 Castle Hills council members arrested in alleged plot to oust city manager

Lesley Wenger, Sylvia Gonzalez face tampering charges

By Adrian Garcia - Digital Journalist, Patty Santos - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Two Castle Hills City Council members were arrested Thursday morning and are facing charges stemming from their alleged efforts to get City Manager Ryan Rapelye fired, according to arrest affidavits.

Lesley Wenger, 77, was taken into custody on felony charges of tampering with evidence and fraudulent use or possession of identifying information. Sylvia Gonzalez, 72, is charged with tampering with a government record.

The arrests come a month after the Castle Hills Police Department launched an investigation into a meeting involving Wenger, Gonzalez, Rapelye, Mayor J.R. Trevino and Sgt. Paul Turner.

RELATED: Questions surround legitimacy of swearing in of Castle Hills City Council member

On May 24, Rapelye said Wenger and Gonzalez met to review Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints filed by a former employee. During the meeting, Wenger notified him that Gonzalez wanted to see his personnel file.

Because of Wenger's "volatile history," Rapelye said he had asked Trevino and Turner to accompany him in the meeting, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by KSAT.com.

While Wenger claimed Gonzalez was the one who wanted to see his file, Rapelye said Wenger began looking over his file, according to the affidavit.

During that time, Rapelye saw Wenger writing notes out of his personnel file. When Rapelye confronted her about taking notes of his personal information, Wenger initially denied but then admitted to the accusation, the affidavit said.

Rapelye said Wenger began tearing up the piece of paper, in which she had written his Social Security number, driver's license, date of birth and the name of a caseworker for his daughter's child support case, according to the affidavit.

The detective said Trevino and Turner both backed up Rapelye's account of Wenger's actions.

Turner told the detective that Gonzalez tried to distract him while Wenger was writing down Rapelye's information.

The investigation into the incident led the detective to speak with other colleagues of Wenger in an attempt to shed light on her personality.

Among those who were interviewed was Castle Hills Councilman Clyde "Skip" McCormick.

McCormick said he and fellow councilman Douglas Gregory were told by Wenger that "her first order of business was to get rid of Ryan Rapelye and put her friend Diane Pfeil back in the job of the city manager," according to the affidavit.

RELATED: Castle Hills City Council votes to fire city manager

In July 2016, the council voted 4-1 to fire Pfeil after two years on the job.

Before being elected to her council seat in May 2018, Rapelye said Wenger made it known that her primary agenda was to get rid of him "at all costs," according to the affidavit.

"Wenger launched a campaign of harassment and attacks upon Rapelye in an effort to either get him to resign or to create enough controversy to fire him outright," the detective said in the affidavit.

In a City Council meeting May 21, Trevino said he received 26 separate petitions, which called for the removal of Rapelye. A resident, however, accused Gonzalez during the meeting of personally going to her home to get her signature on one of the petitions under false pretenses.

The resident said she felt Gonzales misled her by telling several fabrications about Rapelye that was damaging to his reputation.

Trevino said the following day, the stack of the 26 petitions were gone.

Surveillance footage from the council chambers showed Gonzalez taking the stack of petitions and putting it in a binder, according to a separate arrest affidavit obtained by KSAT.com.

The petitions were later found at the back of Gonzalez's three-ring binder under several other contents, according to the affidavit.

RELATED: Castle Hills City Council confirms restrictions on citizen comments

Wenger and Gonzalez were two of the three council members who voted in June to restrict public comments at City Council meetings.

In early July, Gonzalez's swearing-in ceremony as a city council member was being questioned and possibly illegitimate after Sheriff Javier Salazar helped administer the oath of office but was not qualified to do so.

A special meeting called Wednesday to discuss the Castle Hills City Council Place 3 seat that Gonzalez was sworn into in May.

During the beginning of the meeting, the city attorney said Place 3 is considered a vacant seat, citing two opinions, including one from the Office of the Secretary of State. Since the meeting was called of due to not having enough people for a quorum, Gonzalez's future with Castle Hills remains in question.

Online records show Gonzalez was released from the Bexar County Jail after posting $5,000 bail.

Wenger remains in custody and her bail has been set at $30,000.

Mayor Trevino issued the following statement:

LINK: Mayor J.R. Trevino's statement 

Copyright 2019 by KSAT - All rights reserved.