Texas Border School Scandal Highlights Culture of Corruption

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DONNA, Texas — A recent scandal that rocked this border community involving a teacher who allegedly had an affair with a student appears to have been nothing more than a political ploy by one faction aiming to get the superintendent out of office.

The storm is centered around the school district in the border city of Donna, a city that as Breitbart Texas previously reported, is deeply rooted in corruption. Donna is the city where a group of women who were working in a school board race and a commissioner’s race bribed voters with bags of cocaine, beer and cigarettes in order to get them to vote for their candidate. This is the same city where former School Board President Alfredo Lugo hung himself on New Years’ Day 2014 after federal agents began asking questions about the election bribery.

The allegations are that a teacher at Donna ISD, Carlo Cordova, the son-in-law of the current superintendent Jesus Reyna, had intimate relations in 2014 with an 18-year-old woman while she was a student at the school. Donna ISD police arrested the 26-year-old Cordova in mid-January on the charge of improper relation between educator and student. Since the arrest, the case has snowballed into a vicious power-grab by a faction of school board members trying to oust Reyna. The power-grab has even led to the suspension of the Donna ISD Interim Police Chief, Sgt. Dan Walden, claiming that he refused to investigate the case. A closer look at the allegations show a disturbing chain of events that once again highlights the deep-rooted corruption in South Texas.

According to a story by the local newspaper, The Monitor, an unnamed official told a reporter that Walden had ignored the allegations against Cordova. This claim falls apart upon taking a closer look at the case.

The allegations were first made by the student’s/former student’s grandmother in November 2014. However, the woman did not provide officers with a statement nor did she turn over any evidence that authorities could use for probable cause, a school administration official confirmed to Breitbart Texas. Without a statement, investigators would not have been able to obtain an arrest or a search warrant against Cordova for lack of evidence or proof.

The grandmother referred investigators to an attorney who kept Donna ISD police from talking to the alleged victim. The alleged victim finally spoke with an investigator on December 3, 2014 about the alleged relations that took place between May and September.  A school official told Breitbart Texas that the school police had in fact reached out to the City of Donna Police Department in order to have them handle the case to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. Breitbart Texas reached out to Donna Police Chief Ram De Leon who did not respond to phone calls for comment.

A school official stated the only evidence presented in the criminal complaint is a statement by an officer who checked the hotel guestbook where Cordova and the woman are said to have had sex in September. At that time the woman was no longer a student; however, this would appear to render the charge of improper relation between educator and student invalid.

The man behind Walden’s suspension is Donna ISD Police Chief Roy Padilla — the same Padilla who had been fired in May 2014 by Superintendent Reyna over his reported failure to follow directions, according to reports by The Monitor. Padilla sued and eventually was able to get his job back. His reinstatement suspiciously came after the November 2014 election when a new group assumed control of the School Board. Padilla was sworn back in on December 12th and almost immediately demoted Walden.

Roy Padilla is the brother of former Hidalgo County Sheriff Commander Jose “Joe” Padilla. Joe Padilla was sentenced to more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to federal bribery charges for taking money from a Mexican drug lord in exchange for favors. Roy Padilla is also the cousin of Donna Police Chief Ram De Leon.

What The Monitor article failed to point out was that if an investigator was able to meet with the alleged victim on December 3rd, and just nine days later Padilla took over the department, how is it that Sgt. Walden ignored the allegations? It appears he only had nine days to actually work the case and the City of Donna Police Department refused to take it.

Breitbart Texas reached out to Sgt. Dan Walden for comment. Walden referred all questions to a local attorney who is preparing legal action in the case.

“If officials at Donna ISD are using their office or employment for political payback, or to otherwise harm, Chief Walden, they could be hit with federal and state law criminal charges and civil damages. Anyone who is conspiring together with these officials to do the same, are also subject to criminal penalties and civil damages,” said Breitbart Texas legal analyst Lana Shadwick.

Section 39.03 of the Texas Penal Code provides that a public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he intentionally subjects another to mistreatment, or arrest or detention, or dispossession, or denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing his conduct is unlawful. This crime is called ‘Official Oppression,’” Shadwick explained. “Any Donna ISD official who subjects Chief Walden to any kind of mistreatment, or wrongfully deprives him of his job, or of his salary, or publicly embarrasses him, could be found guilty of official oppression. There is a possibility that the offense could be a felony.”

Section 39.02 of the Penal Code provides that a public servant commits an offense if, with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, he intentionally or knowingly violates a law relating to the public servant’s office or employment,” she continued. “Under the facts alleged, the offense would be a felony. This crime is called ‘Abuse of Official Capacity.'”

“Former Governor Rick Perry has been charged under these two Penal Code sections, but unlike the Perry facts, which are unprecedented (to charge someone with a crime in association with a veto when one is a governor), there are many legal precedents and case law which support charges under these statutes as applied to the alleged facts in the Donna ISD/Walden situation,” Shadwick stated.

“Moreover, a federal section 1983 action could possibly be brought against both the Donna ISD School District, and any employees or officials of the School District involved in engaging in political retribution against Officer Walden. A section 1983 action can be brought against any person who acting under a statute or ordinance or regulation, deprives another of their constitutional and legal rights and they can be held liable,” she said. “Punitive damages are available against individuals if their conduct is motivated by evil motive or intent, or when it involves reckless or callous indifference to the federally protected rights of others.”

Shadwick is an attorney who served in Harris County as a prosecutor and judge.

Breitbart Texas previously reported on corruption cases involving the border school board of Progresso Independent School District. The former Mayor of Progresso and his brother who controlled the School Board were sentenced in a scheme where contractors and suppliers were bribing school officials in order to get lucrative federal and state contracts.

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Disclosure: Walden was previously interviewed by Breitbart Texas pertaining to border security. A Breitbart Texas writer was involved in a car accident with Walden in 2014.


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