Former Hidalgo Co. Probation Officer Facing Charges
EDINBURG – A former Hidalgo County probation officer is being charged with felony abuse of official capacity.
The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for Carlos De La Fuente’s arrest. He turned himself in and went before a judge on Tuesday.
According to a probable cause statement, back in May a probationer came forward saying he paid $350 to De La Fuente as a “partial payment for lowering his total fees that were owed.”
When the director of the probation office confronted De La Fuente about it, the money was found in his office.
The document goes on to say that investigators then went through a list of other probationers who were discharged with a remaining balance on their accounts or were discharged early.
It said investigators collected several sworn statements from De La Fuente’s former probationers, stating they paid in cash on their last visit so they could be discharged without a remaining balance. The total amount of the fees was $6,330.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with De La Fuente’s attorney Orlando Jimenez on the phone on Tuesday.
Related Story: Investigation Underway at Adult Probation Office in Edinburg
He said this is all a misunderstanding. He said De La Fuente made an honest mistake when he forgot to take that $350 to the adult probation collections office.
Probation director, Arnold Patrick, said that’s not how it works. He said the only accepted way for a probationer to pay their fees is online, at the collections office or by mail to the collections office.
Patrick spoke to us on Friday when the sheriff’s office announced their investigation into the probation office. He said his office is still reviewing cases to find potential wrong doing.
“It's very important that we look at the safety of the probationers as well as the integrity of the department. So we took it very seriously, and the sheriff's office took it seriously and of course the DA's office as well. So we continued our investigation and we've continued to turn over cases that have come up,” Patrick said.
One other probation office was also terminated from the office. The sheriff’s office said only De La Fuente has been charged with a crime.
The sheriff’s office is asking any other possible victims in the case to call the Hidalgo County Criminal Investigations Division at (956) 383-8114.
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