Three years after being fired from Precinct 7 for insubordination — and two years after her husband, former Precinct 6 constable Victor Trevino, was convicted of a felony related to using charity money for gambling — Silvia Trevino is apparently asking Harris County voters to forget all that and vote for her to become the next Precinct 6 constable.
Trevino defeated Democratic incumbent Constable Heliodoro Martinez in the primaries to become the Democratic candidate, running against Republican Richard “Rick” Gonzales, a 30-year veteran of the Houston Police Department. Martinez had replaced Trevino's husband, Victor, after Victor was convicted of felony misapplication of fiduciary duty in November 2014. After a lengthy Harris County District Attorney's Office investigation, prosecutors and fraud investigators accused Victor of siphoning money he had raised for his own charity — Constable's Athletic Recreational and Education Events Inc. (CARE), which helped kids and elderly people in the East End — to go gambling at Louisiana casinos. Though he never admitted to any wrongdoing, Victor pleaded guilty, escaped jail time and was placed on probation for ten years.
Now, however, never-before-released records from the DA's criminal investigation into Victor Trevino show that Silvia Trevino accompanied him on these gambling trips and was quite the gambler herself. At the time, she still would have been a lieutenant at Precinct 6.
Gonzales held a press conference yesterday to question his opponent's trustworthiness and ask voters if they really wanted to elect a fired Precinct 7 lieutenant who joined her husband in allegedly using charity money intended for children and old people to screw around on slot machines. Wayne Dolcefino, the former KTRK reporter who investigated Victor Trevino's charity several years ago, aided Gonzales in obtaining the L'Auberge Du Lac Casino gambling records and released them Wednesday.
“There's a story in [these records] that was not talked about before but is now relevant, because Victor's wife, Silvia, has dared to try to take back over this precinct,” Dolcefino said. “These records show that the person with the true gambling habit is Silvia Trevino... Cops, on cops' salaries, cannot afford to be spending $10,000 to $15,000 at casinos — unless they're using somebody else's money.”
Trevino denied each allegation in a statement released Wednesday evening, calling the allegations "baseless." "My husband nor I have never taken that amount of monies to the casino," she said (Dolcefino said records showed she spent as much as $140,000 over six years, though we could not verify that through the casino and records did not clearly show that). "My husband and I have never spent the amount of money alleged by my Republican Opponent, and my husband and I have never misused any charity monies."
According to the gambling records, the Trevinos' weekend getaways to the Lake Charles, Louisiana casino date back to at least 2005. In Victor's criminal investigation, prosecutors focused on the period between 2008 and 2011 and said Victor and Silvia cashed $124,000 worth of CARE charity checks into their personal bank accounts in that time period. Fraud investigators found that the Trevinos would show up at the Lake Charles casino and start hitting the slots just hours after cashing these CARE checks in Houston. Silvia, however, never faced any criminal charges.
But she did face a different set of consequences in 2013 — for mouthing off at superiors at Precinct 7. And apparently crying a lot.
Silvia Trevino was fired from Precinct 7 in July 2013 after talking smack about Constable May Walker behind her back, believing certain assignments were “beneath her,” and sending “just plain vulgar” department-wide emails expressing negative opinions, according to Constable Walker's termination letter to Trevino obtained by the Houston Press.
In her statement, Trevino also denied all of Walker's accusations in the termination letter, instead accusing Walker of retaliating against her. In 2012, Walker faced her own criminal investigation for election law violations and allegedly depositing money citizens paid to get fingerprinted into her campaign war chest, and Trevino said she testified against her to a grand jury. Walker was no-billed on all charges.
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According to Trevino's termination letter, Trevino appears to think she's better than everyone at the department and can attack the qualifications of her superiors or question their direct orders. Walker pointed to one example of Trevino thinking she was “above” a certain work assignment: Trevino had stated one media relations assignment from Walker was “an act of harassment” — even though she spent years prior at the Houston Police Department doing media relations. In May 2013, Trevino sent a department-wide email defaming various Precinct 7 personnel, “falsely alleging misconduct, all for the purpose of seeking influence and/or intervention for your personal advantage,” Walker wrote. Walker pointed out that if Trevino had witnessed this alleged year-old misconduct among her colleagues, then it would have been her job as a lieutenant to report it to superiors, not blast it out in an unprofessional mass email more than a year later.
Constable Walker left these parting words for now-Precinct 6 constable candidate Silvia Trevino:
“Your behavior has become so outlandish that not only have I lost confidence in your ability to serve as a deputy constable and supervisor for this department but I am extremely troubled about the wellbeing [sic] of this department. Your rebellious behavior, emotional outbreaks of crying and erroneous reporting of the facts has caused me to become gravely concerned for my safety, as well as the safety of those employees whom you have wrongly accused.”
As Republican candidate Gonzales noted Wednesday with a campaign-slogan-y play on words: “We cannot gamble with Silvia Trevino anymore.”