Former Housing Authority CFO Pleads Guilty

Date Published: 
April 10, 2017
News Type: 
News
Program Area(s): 
Public and Indian Housing

Source: victoriaadvocate.com

By Jessica Priest
April 4, 2017 at 10:42 p.m.
Updated April 5, 2017 at 6 a.m

Upcoming court dates for other defendants
Debra Smith Gillespie, former executive director, May 3
Roger Earl Clark, maintenance director, May 1
David Keith Norrell, contractor, May 1
Robert Berry, contractor, May 15
Terre Horvath-Berry, wife of Robert Berry, May 15

One of six people charged with stealing from the Victoria Housing Authority pleaded guilty Monday. Dolores Gonzales Garza, 61, pleaded guilty to theft of property more than $200,000 in exchange for a five-year prison sentence and a $2,000 fine. The prosecution, meanwhile, abandoned a second count listed on her indictment, misappropriation of fiduciary or financial property more than $200,000. Garza, according to court records, must turn herself in to the Victoria County Sheriff's Office at 7 p.m. May 26. Garza's attorney Tali Villafranca said his client decided to plead guilty after talking with her family.

"She wanted to take responsibility for her actions and was very remorseful," Villafranca said. "She's been dealing in the right way with gambling addiction and medical issues." Villafranca said Garza would attempt to pay $117,585.14 in restitution to the housing authority after finishing her prison sentence. He wasn't sure whether Garza would testify against her five co-defendants, but said she would continue to cooperate with law enforcement. The co-defendants' cases are pending.

All the charges stem from an Office of Inspector General investigation of more than $780,000 being mismanaged at the housing authority from Jan. 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014.
Specifically, Garza, the former chief financial officer, was charged with paying herself for vacation days she had not earned.

"We really don't have any comment," said Chris Janak, the housing authority's attorney. "We do trust; however, that the district attorney's office and law enforcement have properly protected the interest of the taxpayers and justice has been done."