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Lawsuit accuses Bexar County DA of not paying breath test vendor for months of work

County has asked a federal judge to dismiss the case

District Attorney Joe Gonzales.
District Attorney Joe Gonzales.

SAN ANTONIO – A lawsuit filed in federal court in San Antonio earlier this year accuses Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales and his office of not paying its former vendor for breath test services, even though the company continued to do work for the county after its contract was not renewed.

The suit, filed by Alamo Forensic Services (AFS) owner Debra Stephens, is asking the county to pay damages, including for “harm to business and reputation as a result of the retaliatory acts by” the Defendant, listed in court paperwork as Gonzales and Bexar County.

Records show AFS had a contract with the county starting in late 2012 to provide breath test services, including maintenance of county breath-test instruments, supervision of certified breath-test operators, expert testimony on breath tests and clerical support for drunk driving-related cases.

The contract was worth around $200,000 per year, the lawsuit claims, but the two sides split at the end of 2017 after AFS received a letter from Bexar County Office of Criminal Justice Director Mike Lozito stating that the county was not going to renew the deal.

A county spokesman confirmed Wednesday that commissioners in January 2018 approved a new contract to instead get breath test services from another San Antonio company, Quality Forensic Toxicology.

“Despite the termination of the Contract, Bexar County has continued to request services from Alamo Forensic just as it did during the period of the Contract. These include requests for records, requests for expert testimony, requests for training services, and requests for certification and maintenance of equipment. Since February 1, 2018, Alamo Forensic has not been compensated for the services it is providing, even though it is providing the same services that were being requested during the pendency of the contract and is invoicing Bexar County,” the lawsuit states.

Since February 2018, AFS has provided expert testimony in 20 cases, received 320 subpoenas and has received hundreds of emails from the DA’s office requesting expert testimony, support services and records but has yet to be compensated, the suit claims.

Stephens referred questions about the lawsuit to her attorney, who said via telephone Thursday that the county has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on grounds related to governmental immunity.

Records show both sides were in court earlier this week for a status hearing.

Larry Roberson, Civil Division Chief of the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, released the following statement this week:

“The suit was filed against Bexar County and the District Attorney in his official capacity. It is the policy of the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney’s Office to make no further comment on pending litigation.”


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