Personal assistant accused of fleecing former Galveston mayor

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by Kevin Reece / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on October 1, 2012 at 10:14 PM

HOUSTON -- The personal assistant to former Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas is accused of bilking the long-time city official out of hundreds of thousands of dollars over seven years.

Mary Louise Castano was indicted last month and has since been released from the Galveston County Jail on $100,000 bail.  Prosecutors allege that Castano, 51, used a variety of schemes to fleece Thomas out of at least $367,000.

“You know it’s very interesting when you take into account the various schemes,” said prosecutor Elizabeth Cuchens with the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office. “This wasn’t just one particular act she was doing. This was several different schemes.”

Castano is accused of making unauthorized cash withdrawals from Thomas’ accounts, transferring money online from the mayor’s account to her own, and opening credit card accounts and making unauthorized credit card transactions. 

“General every day expenses like going out to the restaurants, and going out to eat and buying groceries and paying for her own Reliant bills and paying for her own veterinary care bills,” said Cuchens of the transactions they have been able to track.

Reached at her home on the west end of Galveston Monday night, Castano declined our offer to comment on the allegations.

“I better not say anything. Not without Jyll,” she said referring to her attorney Jyll Rekoff who did not return our calls for comment.  But Rekoff told our newspaper partner the Galveston County Daily News that the purchases were for necessities and that the mayor knew about and approved the transactions.

Prosecutors disagree.

“I think that the nature of the different schemes basically contradicts that idea in general anyway,” said Cuchens.  “Just the high amount of money in question over the duration of seven years is just very incredible.”

A court date has been set for Nov. 5. If she is convicted Castano could face anywhere from probation to numerous years in prison.

 

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