Cameron Co. Auditor Claims DA Owes Thousands for ‘Double-Dipping’
BROWNSVILLE – The Cameron County auditor is asking the district attorney to pay back thousands of dollars to the county.
In a memo sent to District Attorney Luis Saenz in April, the county auditor, Martha Galarza, notifies him he needs to pay back $4,977.97 for what she said is double-dipping.
It's been six months to the date and Galarza told CHANNEL 5 NEWS she's still waiting for Saenz to pay back the money.
"The county attorney was receiving an auto allowance, was using a county-issued vehicle and was using a county-issued fuel card," Galarza said, "which is in essence double-dipping."
According to her memo, Galarza states the county approved an auto allowance of $5,400 a year to reimburse the DA for use of his personal vehicle from 2013 to 2017.
She said the issue of double-dipping came to light in May 2015 and was addressed.
Saenz stopped using his fuel card for more than a year, the memo states, then the usage resumed in December 2016.
"I requested a reimbursement of approximately $5,000 for the fuel card that had been consumed," Galarza said. "To this date, I have not received a response to my report, nor have I been appraised that these funds have been reimbursed to Cameron County."
Galarza, in the memo, goes on to state that Saenz getting an auto allowance and gas card is against county policy. She said it's also against state forfeiture guidelines, which the DA's office must follow since it relies on funds from seizures and forfeitures.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to the district attorney about the money he's being charged. He would not speak to us on camera but in a statement, he disputes the double-dipping.
The district attorney states:
"Over a period of time my county gas card was used to gas-up a county unit that was used by (assistant district attorneys), paralegals and investigators to conduct county business, and (Galarza) knows that.”
Saenz goes on to state that right now his focus is on the investigation into the theft of $1.2 million worth of fajitas that occurred at the county's juvenile detention center, stating:
"I will continue the investigation and search for the answers the public is asking and entitled to know."
Although it's been six months since the memo was sent to the district attorney, the auditor doesn't list a due date by which the money must be paid.