PATTON VILLAGE, Texas—A Montgomery County grand jury has indicted Patton Village Mayor Pamela Munoz and six other city officials on criminal charges ranging from abuse of official capacity to theft by a public servant, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
Also indicted were former City Secretary Georgia Simons, Court Clerk Patricia Edmondson, and four current and former Patton Village police officers: Kenneth McLin, Michael Seymour, William Martin and Deangelo Lavergne. Three other former police officers were charged with additional criminal offenses in other counties as a result of the investigation, prosecutors said.
Many of the suspects were arrested on open warrants Friday afternoon.
Mayor Munoz, who’s facing nine felony counts and one misdemeanor, was led out of Patton Village City Hall in handcuffs.
When KHOU 11 News asked for her take on the allegations against her, Munoz said she knew nothing about it.
"Nothing’s been told to me. It was just told that I was being arrested," Munoz said.
The investigation began in late September of 2011, when the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office received information about possible illegal activity on the part of Patton Village officials and city employees.
Essentially, they are accused of using tens of thousands of dollars of city money for their own personal gain.
On October 4, 2011, the DA’s office and the Texas Rangers executed a search warrant on the city offices, seizing computers, financial reports, payroll records, invoices, contracts, bank records and other documents.
Over the course of several months—with assistance from the FBI, the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Public Safety—investigators uncovered evidence in the case, which was presented to the grand jury.
After examining the evidence, the grand jury concluded that there was reason to believe that criminal offenses—including abuse of official capacity, misuse of official information, misapplication of fiduciary property, securing execution of document by deception, and theft by a public servant—were committed.
"The citizens of Montgomery County have asked that our office aggressively seek and investigate allegations of public corruption, and unfortunately, it appears the City of Patton Village is the latest example of public officials and police officers using city funds and property for their personal benefits," District Attorney Phil Grant said.
Despite the cloud of suspicion hanging over City Hall, Mayor Munoz was re-elected by six votes in November.
On Friday, though, residents who talked to KHOU 11 News were furious.
"A bunch of crap is what it is," one resident said.
"The citizens, they deserve a lot more than what they’ve been getting," another resident said.
But while Grant said he hopes the arrests will spur Patton Village residents to "stand up and take a good hard look at their government," Police Chief Joe Schultea had different advice.
"Stay calm, quit listening to rumors and wait for the final outcome of this situation," he said.
City Hall was shut down Friday after the arrests. Investigators said they were still working to track down some of the suspects, and it was unclear when City Hall would reopen.