Employee of RGC attorney faces tampering charges

An employee of a Rio Grande City-based law firm was arrested last week on charges of tampering with evidence and governmental records.

Edwin Duran, an employee of the Law Offices of Calixtro Villarreal, was arrested Friday on four charges of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence in addition to four other charges of tampering with a governmental record — all third degree felonies.

Starr County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace J.M. “Chuy” Alvarez set a $5,000 personal recognizance bond for each of the eight counts and Duran was released later that day.

His arrest stemmed from the case of Anthony De La Cruz which is currently being handled by the Villarreal’s law firm, according to the probable cause affidavit.

De La Cruz was arrested on multiple charges of theft. On Aug. 21, Villarreal, his defense attorney, argued to have De La Cruz’s bonds reduced before Rio Grande City Municipal Judge Basilio “Bacho” Villarreal.

The bond reduction was denied and the judge signed the orders stating as much by checking off “denied.”

However, the next day, Duran took the original orders to the Starr County jail where Starr County Detention Cpl. A. Garcia and Lt. B. Perez found the bond amounts on the forms did not match their records.

Perez then called the Rio Grande City Municipal Court where a clerk informed them the bond reduction had been denied. Perez then discovered the check mark next to “denied” had been whited-out and “granted” had been checked off.

Duran presented copies of those orders to be signed by Cpl. Garcia, which he did while the attorney, Calixtro Villarreal, met with the judge and turned in copies of the original orders signed by the corporal. However, those copies accurately reflected the judge had denied the bond reduction.

Duran was arrested by the Starr County Special Crimes Unit. Upon questioning from an investigator, Duran said he received the orders from the municipal court and believed the bond reductions had been granted. According to the probable cause affidavit, Duran said he made copies of the orders himself and then delivered them to the jail.

When reached by phone at the law office, Duran declined to comment on his arrest.

The Special Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at the law office Wednesday afternoon. However, Calixtro Villarreal — who is also the city attorney for Rio Grande City — could not be reached for comment.