SAN ANTONIO - A San Antonio woman charged with writing hot checks for a cancer charity gala, then never donating the proceeds from the event, is also being investigated for impersonating local attorneys, multiple law enforcement agencies confirmed to the KSAT 12 Defenders.
Andrea Vasquez, 44, remains jailed on four felony theft charges, despite having her bond cut in half last month at a hearing in State District Court.
As the Bexar County District Attorney's Office prepares to prosecute that case, the San Antonio Police Department's white-collar crimes unit in late March began investigating claims that Vasquez impersonated two San Antonio attorneys while working as a paralegal.
"She's ruining people's lives, and it doesn't seem to faze her, really," Dolores Reynoso said.
Reynoso hired Vasquez's former boss, John Longoria, to represent her in a 2013 divorce.
Reynoso said that after the case was settled, she believed she had rehired Longoria to help her collect a portion of her ex-husband's retirement account and to negotiate a back rent dispute with the landlord of her West Side bridal boutique.
"She strung me along for five months, telling me, 'We're working on it. We're researching it. We're spending all these hours on it,'" said Reynoso, who provided records showing she paid Vasquez close to $4,000 to file paperwork for both cases, including restraining orders against the rental management company.
Bexar County District Clerk records confirm the restraining orders were never filed.
Reynoso said that when it came time to go to court for the rent dispute, Longoria informed her she had not paid him to represent her in the case.
Vasquez admitted to Reynoso she never handed over the money to Longoria, according to text message records provided to the Defenders.
Vasquez reimbursed Reynoso $1,900 — around half the amount she originally collected from her — but the damage was done, Reynoso said.
Reynoso was unable to reopen her bridal shop, leaving clients who paid for dresses unable to retrieve their merchandise.
"A lot of people were inconvenienced; their parties were ruined. It was just a bad deal," Reynoso said.
Reynoso herself has multiple theft- and forgery-related convictions on her record in Bexar County from 1986 to 1994. She said it feels horrible to now be a victim.
"My whole life fell apart," Reynoso said.
Reynoso said she eventually hired a second attorney to help collect on her ex's retirement account, since that paperwork was also never filed.
Longoria, who was appointed judge of County Court 5 in February 2015, told The Defenders via telephone last month that he, too, is a victim of Vasquez. He declined to elaborate on the record and refused the Defenders' requests for an interview.
In a letter sent to his clients a day after his appointment to the bench, Longoria wrote that Vasquez was not a licensed attorney and was not authorized to work on cases.
The letter went on to state that "under no circumstances" were clients to make payments to Vasquez.
"You have information that I don't even have; that no one's given me," said attorney John Convery, who represents Vasquez in the charity theft case. "I'd rather try the case in the court of law than the court of KSAT."
Convery, after skimming over Longoria's letter, said he interpreted it as an attorney simply informing his clients he was leaving his office and that the legal assistant who worked under him is not an attorney.
"No one is suggesting that Andrea Vasquez hasn't had some real issues," Convery said. "She's not perfect. I'm her lawyer. I care about her. I want to see her get a fair shake."
A second attorney Vasquez worked for told the Defenders he never appeared in person and did not sign court paperwork for a client in a 2016 divorce filing, and only learned that he represented the husband after the man reached out asking for an update on his case.
Joe Ponce said the signature that appears on court filings for the case is not his and that he never collected fees for it.
A source said the client paid as much as $20,000 to Vasquez before learning she no longer worked for Ponce and that he was not familiar with the case.
Ponce declined the Defenders' request for an on-camera interview, saying he does not want to jeopardize the criminal investigation.
District clerk records show the case in question is pending.
Ponce last month requested a list of all cases he is currently assigned to, according to multiple sources.
The investigation is unrelated to misapplication of a fiduciary and theft charges filed against Ponce in 2014.
Ponce continues to handle cases while awaiting trial and is still eligible to practice law, according to state bar records. He told the Defenders he employed Vasquez for "only a brief period of time."
The state's Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee investigated Vasquez in 2012 after receiving a complaint that she was making court appearances in place of her employer.
The complaint was resolved in January 2013 without any action being taken against Vasquez, according to UPLC records.
A member of the committee told the Defenders via telephone it often recommends cases to local district attorneys and has filed injunction lawsuits in the past to prevent the activity from continuing.
In the ongoing theft case, prosecutors said Vasquez, a convicted felon, wrote checks from a bank account associated with her to a small-business owner and vendors who helped host a posh Fashion for Cancer Foundation event last October.
The account did not have sufficient funds to cover the checks, according to the Bexar County District Attorney's Office.
Despite an oversized $20,000 check being presented during the event to the San Antonio chapter of the cancer charity THAIR for You, state records show the donation was never made, according to the DA's office.
"That type of behavior needs to be held accountable, and we're going to do that," said Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood.
Vasquez faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the four charges, if convicted, since she is considered a repeat offender.
She was convicted in Bexar County of intoxication manslaughter in 2001, has a history of felony theft by deception in Kentucky and was out on bond for unrelated theft charges in Bexar and Hidalgo counties when she was arrested last month in the cancer charity case.
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