HOUSTON - Indicted Harris County Constable Victor Trevino made his first court appearance Tuesday, facing felony charges that could drive him from office and put him in prison.

Trevino faces four felony counts accusing him of various fiscal misdeeds, including failing to report campaign contributions and diverting money from a charity for his personal use. He s also accused of using deputies to serve eviction notices, then keeping the fees.

Defense Attorney Chip Lewis denied Trevino diverted campaign money for his personal use and dismissed the allegations as bookkeeping technicalities.

It was a sad day in the community that Constable Trevino s good name has been sullied because of these charges, Lewis said before a cluster of cameras gathered in the hallway outside the courtroom. And we ve very eager to having the opportunity to vindicate him and return his good name.

Prosecutors declined comment, saying they would rather let the case unfold in court.

Trevino, speaking in both English and Spanish, thanked his supporters and echoed his attorney s statements.

I just want to thank the community for their overwhelming support, their prayers, Trevino said. We ve cooperated. And we re going to continue to cooperate and we re going to see this through all the way.

Trevino has been a fixture in East End politics and law enforcement for nearly a quarter century. The former Houston police officer was first elected in 1988 and he s kept a high profile ever since.

Trevino initially avoided cameras staking out the court s hallways, apparently getting preferential treatment by using a back entrance.After the appearance, Trevino stepped into the hallway and made a brief statement, then deferred to his lawyer and didn t answer questions.

As the constable and his lawyer walked away from the cameras, Lewis answered only one question: Will Trevino step down from his office?

He s still the elected constable, Lewis said. He ll stay that way.

If he s convicted, prosecutors say Trevino could face up to 10 years in prison.

His case was reset for Jan. 9.

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