District attorney Isidro Alaniz must return 1.7 million in cash and items that were seized in January of this year.
Susan Reed, a judge in San Antonio gave Alaniz five days to return these confiscated items. All part of a multiple law enforcement raid made in eight-liner businesses in Zapata and Laredo and a home in Falcon Heights.
This operation led to the arrest of Hilda Villarreal and other suspects. She is represented by attorney Silverio Martinez.
“The state of Texas filed a forfeiture and we answered with several defenses. One of them obviously the money was not illegal that it was from legitimate sources and number two that they filed in the wrong jurisdiction, there was a jurisdictional issue.”
In a letter, Alanis asked San Antonio judge Sid Harle, the presiding judge of the 4th administrative judicial region, to appoint a special judge, due to a conflict of interest involving 49th district court judge Joe Lopez, who hears cases in Zapata.
Alaniz said although he didn’t believe Judge Lopez would compromise the investigation, his close relationship with one of the suspects may expose him to unfair and inaccurate criticism.
Harle approved this request and appointed himself as a presiding judge, later appointing Harle. Alaniz declined to give an interview on camera, but in a statement said his office maintains its position that the case was properly filed and will exercise every legal remedy available under the law. Adding that Martinez’s declaration of victory is premature. However, Martinez says nothing can be done.
“Any continued appeal or mandamus or refiling would be completely frivolous. They don’t have the option to appeal.”
Martinez said the case is over and would ask for 75-thousand dollars in damages if the DA’s office files a frivolous appeal.