A former Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office official has waived his arraignment and pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of theft.
Jose Padilla, 60, had been scheduled for arraignment Wednesday morning on three counts of credit card or debit card abuse, a count of theft of property, more than $30,000 but less than $150,000, a count of forgery of a financial instrument and a count of engaging in organized criminal activity.
Padilla, who was indicted Nov. 17, 2020, filed a written waiver of arraignment prior to Wednesday’s hearing, court records show.
The former officer served a little more than three years in federal prison for taking drug money from a trafficker. He also has a federal supervised release violation hearing which remains pending.
Pharr police arrested Padilla on Aug. 28, 2019, on 10 counts of credit or debit card abuse and three counts of forgery of a financial instrument after executing a search warrant at his Weslaco residence.
The warrant was the result of a months-long investigation which began Feb. 20, 2019, when the owner of Unimex Logistics, a trucking company, reported to police that an audit into his company’s financials showed it had lost nearly $110,000, according to a probable cause affidavit.
In addition to Padilla, Pharr police also investigated Kathy Judith Morales, 32, and Milagros Gomez, both employees who were accused of making unauthorized purchases with company credit cards.
Morales has been indicted along with Padilla. She is charged with 13 counts of credit card abuse, engaging in organized criminal activity and theft of property, more than $30,000 but less than $150,000.
Court records show she has pleaded not guilty to the charges levied in the indictment.
There are no records of an indictment or arrest for Gomez, though Pharr police say in an affidavit she admitted to making unauthorized purchases and was with Padilla when some of the alleged transactions occurred.
Investigators also say Morales admitted to making unauthorized purchases.
“On 05/29/2019, Padilla initially informed Investigator Vasquez that the company owed him money and that all purchases were authorized by Milagros Gomez, however, Gomez implicated Padilla and Morales that they all made unauthorized purchases,” the affidavit states.
Investigators allege Padilla made the unauthorized transactions at Dillard’s in McAllen and Austin and at H-E-B stores in Pharr and McAllen.
In a motion to postpone his federal supervised release violation hearing, his attorney said he believes Padilla will prevail over the theft charges.
The District Attorney’s Office also used Padilla’s federal conviction as an enhancement in the indictment, which if convicted, could impact sentencing.
After being arrested on Christmas Eve in 2013, Padilla would eventually be convicted of taking drug money which he then used on lavish vacations that cost tens of thousands of dollars.
He served a little more than three years in prison.