SAN ANTONIO – Democratic candidates for Bexar County sheriff have sounded off after ex-constable Michelle Barrientes Vela was indicted on three felony charges and turned herself in to authorities at the Bexar County Courthouse.
Barrientes Vela’s 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 Thursday.
A smiling Barrientes Vela walked in front of KSAT cameras while she was escorted by officers to go before a judge. Capt. Marc Garcia, a former member of Barrientes Vela’s administration while she was constable, followed behind her.
Garcia’s charges include one felony count of aggravated perjury and three counts of official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office said.
KSAT reached out to the Democratic candidates running against Barrientes Vela in the race for sheriff.
Opponent Sharon Rodriguez released the following statement:
“It is a sad day whenever an elected official or public member of our community is accused of a crime. Any allegations should always be taken seriously and properly investigated. We must remember everyone is innocent until proven guilty and deserves due process and a fair and reasonable defense. I have faith in our criminal justice system. I respect the integrity of the FBI and the Texas Rangers and have no reason to believe there has been collusion, a conspiracy, or any wrongdoing. I, along with this community will eagerly await the outcome of the criminal cases against my opponent and will stay focused on my campaign.”
Opponent Jose Trevino sent KSAT the following statement:
“I do not have direct knowledge of the active investigation; however, I am of the stance that all public servants are held to a higher standard of trust and integrity. I firmly believe that all public servants should serve with the highest level of transparency and accountability.”
Candidate Pete Lozano, a retired highway patrol sergeant and current special ranger, said he couldn’t offer insight into the claims made by Barrientes Vela about county officials who don’t want her in office since Bexar County has never employed him.
Barrientes Vela told reporters Thursday that she is going forward in the race for sheriff.
“I’ve invested my own personal money with my husband alongside me. We are not – we are sending a strong message out there that we are not accepting high contributions. We are not going to be bought by special interest people,” Barrientes Vela said.
Public fundraising figures show that Barrientes Vela had loaned herself $61,000 and only raised $1,600.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement on behalf of Sheriff Javier Salazar, who is running for reelection:
“Despite the claims made, Sheriff Javier Salazar has had zero involvement in the case or the arrest of Michelle Barrientes Vela. Commenting on another agency’s case is not our standard practice.”
Below are the indictment documents: