WATCH: Ex-Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela faces judge after turning self in on felony charges
Sheriff candidate has been under investigation since May
SAN ANTONIO – Former Bexar County Pct. 2 Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela, now a candidate for sheriff, has been indicted on three felony charges.
The charges include one felony count of aggravated perjury, two felony counts of tampering with evidence and three misdemeanor counts of official oppression, according to indictments released by the Bexar County District Attorney Thursday.
Vela turned herself in to authorities Thursday afternoon at the Bexar County Courthouse. She was placed in handcuffs before facing a judge.
A former member of Vela’s administration, Captain Marc Garcia, was also indicted on one felony count of aggravated perjury and three counts of official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor, the DA’s office said. He was also booked on Thursday.
During her walk through the courthouse, Vela was asked by KSAT 12 reporter Dillon Collier, who has covered her case extensively, asked whether Vela wanted to apologize to constituents. She responded: “I believe you owe the apology, sir.”
Vela has been under investigation by state and federal authorities since May and her constable office and home were raided in September.
An explosive, 24-page search warrant obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders at the time outlined a list of alleged crimes, including felony perjury, tampering with evidence and official oppression.
The warrant states that Barrientes Vela and three members of her administration withheld records from a subpoena, fabricated charging documents and forced a clerk to shred records related to payments for security at a public park. Authorities seized and inventoried more than 70 items during the raid, the warrant shows.
The indictment centers around a handful of incidents that resulted in six criminal charges.
Prosecutors accuse Barrientes Vela of lying in her sworn statements about Deputy Leonicio Moreno, who had filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against her. Moreno also was planning on running against Barrientes Vela for the constable seat.
Barrientes Vela had Moreno arrested on suspicion of aggravated perjury, but the charges were quickly rejected by the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.
Moreno’s arrest and her alleged treatment of the deputy over a few years were cited in the indictment for Barrientes Vela’s aggravated perjury charge and two of her official oppression charges.
The third official oppression charge stems from Barrientes Vela’s alleged treatment of Christopher De La Cerda, a former deputy who accused the constable of “creating a work environment that was intimidating” and “hostile.”
Barrientes Vela was also charged with two counts of tampering with evidence. In that case, she’s accused of altering receipt logs and accounting records that reflected how much money was paid to her office for doing security at Rodriguez Park over Easter weekend.
Collier breaks down the latest from the courthouse below:
During the raid, Vela told a KSAT 12 reporter on camera that she was going to run for sheriff, which triggered the state’s resign-to-run law.
Since being removed from office by county officials in October, Vela has campaigned as a Democrat for Bexar County Sheriff. Last week, public fundraising figures showed she had raised $1,600 for the campaign and loaned herself $61,000.
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