in Houston, Texas
Former South Texas DA Joe Frank Garza indicted for illegally spending $200,000+ from drug seizures
Thursday, Aug 19, 2010, 10:54AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

A South Texas grand jury late Wednesday indicted former district attorney Joe Frank Garza for illegally spending more than $200,000 taken in drug seizures on himself and three people in his office he referred to as "my eyes and ears in the community." 

20-dollar bills

The Jim Wells County Grand Jury indicted Garza for first-degree felony misapplication of fiduciary property. And while the indictment says he misused more than $200,000, an audit done by his successor found that Garza had paid $1.2 million in drug seizure forfeitures to his three staff members and another $81,000 to himself between January of 2002 through the end of 2008. The audit found money transferred to employees for car allowances, stipends, reimbursements, advances, audits, travel and contract labor.

In an 
interview with CNN, Garza admitted spending the money but said he had done nothing illegal. According to state law, district attorneys may supplement the salaries of their employees with assets seized in criminal cases, but only with the permission of their county commissioners. According to the indictment, Garza failed to get approval from the commissioners' court.

Garza, 63, served as district attorney for Brooks and Jim Wells counties from 2002 through 2008, when he lost a bid for another term.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or

Photo of cash by flickr user athrasher, used via a Creative Commons license.

Thursday, 08/19/2010 - 02:16PM

He thought he was able to get away with it. Glad he was indicted.

K. Schmaltz
Monday, 09/13/2010 - 05:31PM

His arraignment was reset . . . anything fishy here?

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