Jury finds Edinburg man not guilty of theft charge

A day after the trial for Braxton Allen Leal Barrera began in earnest a jury found the man not guilty of the one charge he was facing, records show

The 43-year-old Rio Grande Valley man, who made his initial appearance in federal court in August 2019, was accused of “willfully and knowingly steal(ing), purloin, and knowingly convert(ing) for his use or the use of another, money, or thing of value of the United States,” approximately $1,250 in currency, the indictment against Leal states. 

Though the indictment lacks details, Leal is accused of the theft on or about April 29, 2019. 

The charge Leal was facing, which states Leal allegedly violated Title 18, U.S. code 641, pertains to the illegal use of public money, property, or records. 

“Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof…,” records show.

After a jury was selected Tuesday, and after getting underway briefly, the trial resumed Wednesday morning. 

As part of their case against Leal, the government was expected to play an alleged “confession” from Leal to the jury, and also show “receipts,” allegedly tying him to the aforementioned offense, court documents show. 

The defense rested its case just before noon Wednesday — shortly after Leal testified in his own trial, notes show. 

The government called two rebuttal witnesses to the stand before juror deliberations began. 

Court notes show the jury came to a unanimous decision just before 3 p.m. Wednesday and found Leal not guilty of the aforementioned theft charge.  

Leal was facing up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.