Who’s who of SA politicians accepted donations from business owners linked to San Angelo kickback scheme
Former San Angelo police chief accused of accepting $130K in exchange for making sure radio contract stayed with same company
SAN ANTONIO – The arrest of the former San Angelo police chief has sent shockwaves to San Antonio, as the communications company at the center of that federal indictment currently holds the public-safety radio contracts for both the City of San Antonio and Bexar County.
Timothy Ray Vasquez, 49, was charged Friday with bribery and honest services mail fraud, according to the United States Department of Justice.
Vasquez, who served as the chief of the San Angelo Police Department from 2004 to 2016, is accused of funneling $130,000 to himself through checks made out to his band, “Funky Munky.”
Vasquez’s band was provided the money in exchange for Vasquez pushing city officials to twice award its public-safety radio system to a company named in the indictment as “Vendor 1,” according to the Department of Justice.
Those contracts were worth over $11 million.
San Angelo LIVE! identified “Vendor 1” as Dailey and Wells Communications, based off of its previous reporting on the contracts and the dates they were awarded.
Dailey and Wells Communications, which is San Antonio based, currently holds the public-safety radio contracts for the City of San Antonio and Bexar County, according to documents released by a county spokeswoman Monday evening.
Co-owners Richard and JoAnne Wells did not respond to requests for comment left on the phone and sent via email.
The KSAT 12 Defenders could find no record of either of them being criminally charged in connection to the San Angelo case.
Much of the case against Vasquez remained sealed Monday evening.
According to the Department of Justice, the then-police chief accepted checks on behalf of his band from Juniper Valley L.P. and Trixie & Fini. Vasquez would then deposit those checks into his personal bank account.
Texas Comptroller Records show that both of those companies are registered to JoAnne Wells and share the same registered office street address, 3440 E. Houston Street, as Dailey and Wells Communications.
The DOJ described Juniper Valley and Trixie & Fini as affiliates of “Vendor 1.”
Political contributions to many San Antonio politicians
Campaign finance records show Richard and JoAnne Wells have contributed a significant amount of money to current and former city and county-wide office holders.
From 2017 to present, the Wells’ have contributed at least the following amounts to these campaigns:
-Mayor Ron Nirenberg: $4,000
-District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran: $1,000
-District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia: $1,000
-Former District 4 Councilman Rey Saldana: $1,000
-District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales: $500
-District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval: $1,000
-District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez: $1,000
-District 9 Councilman John Courage: $1,000
-District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry: $1,000
Nirenberg’s campaign manager, Kelton Morgan, pointed out Monday that all of the Wells’ contributions to Nirenberg came in 2019, after Dailey and Wells had been given the more than $100 million radio contract.
“If there was something tainted about the contributions, the mayor will take the appropriate action,” said Morgan via telephone.
That could include paying back the contributions or donating that amount to a charitable organization.
A city spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment Monday. On Tuesday, Chief Information Officer Craig Hopkins sent KSAT the following statement:
“The City worked diligently with the County and CPS Energy on a rigorous evaluation process for a new radio system. The process included robust testing, stakeholder input, on-site visits and objective evaluation of capability, pricing and terms. The City’s due diligence surfaced no irregularities around the business dealings of Dailey & Wells Communications. We will continue to closely monitor this project.”
The Wells’ stature as political donors is even more prominent at the county level, according to campaign finance records reviewed by the Defenders dating back to 2016.
The Wells’ have contributed at least the following amounts to these campaigns:
-Judge Nelson Wolff: $1,000
-Precinct 1 Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez: $10,000
-Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff: $20,000
-Candidate for Precinct 3 Commissioner Trish DeBerry: $10,000
-Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Calvert: $20,000.30
-District Attorney Joe Gonzales: $5,000
-Sheriff Javier Salazar: $45,000
The late Precinct 2 Commissioner Paul Elizondo was given $5,000 by the Wells', campaign finance records show.
A campaign spokeswoman for Judge Wolff did not respond to phone messages seeking comment.
Calvert and Commissioner Wolff did not respond to text messages seeking comment.
Rodriguez did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Gonzales, through a campaign spokeswoman, released the following statement Monday night:
“My campaign for District Attorney and the work I have done since becoming elected has gained national attention. I receive contributions from many individuals who share my values on justice reform and believe in the work my administration is doing. My campaign properly reports all contributions received, and I personally believe that transparency in public office is a necessity.”
Salazar, also through a campaign spokeswoman, released this statement Monday night:
“Accepting and properly reporting a political contribution honors the Texas Elections Code and upholds the transparency expected of public officials. But, soliciting funds for personal benefits is entirely different and illegal. If the allegations against this former public official are true, I find that to be personally reprehensible, and he should absolutely be held criminally responsible for his actions.”
Records show the sheriff received $10,000 from the Wells as recently as late October and $25,000 from JoAnne Wells in a single donation in December 2016, weeks before he took office.
Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.