The DA's Victims Rights Division Becomes A Victim Itself
A year ago, the Houston Press looked into restitution in the state parole system and discovered that in 90 percent of the cases, victims never get all the money that was owed to them.
While we can't vouch for the percentage, it looks like victims counting on the Harris County District Attorney's Office to send them their court-ordered money have also been coming up short.
Earlier today, the DA's office announced that an administrative assistant in the Victims' Rights Division and her husband were arrested for allegedly stealing $232,692 in checks and money orders that should have been mailed to victims as restitution. The DA employee, Eloise Mireles, is charged with theft by a public servant of more than $200,000, and her husband Daniel Mireles is also charged with theft.
The Victims' Rights Division distributes restitution payments in some cases. Mireles, who had been working in that section since 2001, was responsible for mailing payments.
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But, prosecutors say, she wasn't always so good at her job.
The whole mess started in August when a probation officer was trying to verify that $4,000 in restitution payments had been paid by a criminal and sent to a victim. It turned out that all $4,000 had been paid, but not all of it had been mailed. Mireles admitted to taking $1,000, authorities say.
That admission launched a full audit of the Victims' Rights Division by the DA's Public Integrity Division, at the end of which prosecutors determined that Mireles had stolen more than $200K and that her husband helped cash more than $100,000 in stolen cashier's checks and money orders, prosecutors say.
Mireles was fired on August 20, immediately after investigators learned she had stolen the first $1,000. She is currently in the Harris County jail on $465,384 bond, according to county records. District Attorney Pat Lykos assures victims that her office has secured funds to pay victims the money allegedly stolen by Mireles.