Cameron County Tax Assessor-Collector Found Not Guilty

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CORPUS CHRISTI – A jury found the Cameron County tax-assessor collector not guilty on all 15 counts. Tony Yzaguirre Jr. was accused of bribery and official capacity.

The jury had reached a verdict on all but one of the counts yesterday.

Yzaguirre was originally facing 22 counts of bribery and abuse of official capacity. State District Judge Juan Banales had dropped one charge of organized criminal activity.

A DPS investigator testified during the trial and told jurors about an undercover operation to allegedly catch Yzaguirre taking bribes from people transferring fake titles. The investigator said the county official was taking bribes from a car dealer in order to get car titles without the necessary documentation.

He said his informant would meet with Yzaguirre in his office and make the transfer for the used cars.

The defense questioned the investigator about the informant, who was a car dealer. They said car dealers aren’t required to submit information about insurance or driver’s license to Yzaguirre’s office. The investigator admitted he didn’t know the law regarding car dealers obtaining titles.

The jury heard several audio and video recordings that were taken by the informant when he would meet with Yzaguirre. The informant also took the stand and said he struck a deal with DPS investigators and agreed to testify for immunity.

Seven charges were dropped against Yzaguirre, but he was still facing 15 counts for bribery and abuse of official capacity.

The prosecution also presented Yzaguirre’s bank records. An investigator with the Cameron County DA’s Office focused on cash deposits Yzaguirre was making, telling jurors that the accused frequently deposited cash at different banks on the same day.

The defense had requested time to review the bank records and crossed examined the state’s witness who testified about the documents. According to the testimony, the alleged bribes that Yzaguirre took from the DPS informant weren’t reflected on the bank statements.

Yzaguirre told CHANNEL 5 NEWS he maintained his innocence from the beginning. "It's going to be back to work - normal. We're just going have to take one day at a time and explain to people what happened because there's going to be a lot of questions, and I'm hoping you guys will be able to explain to the public this long drawn-out court battle that we had. But we're ready to go back to work," he said.

Yzaguirre has been in office for about 30 years. He was re-elected for another term in November. He said it'll be a slow process to make the public understand he's acquitted of wrongdoing, but he'll be back in his office Monday to continue serving his role. 

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