Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lawyer who reaped benefits now faces charges

This summer, Hilda Valadez, an attorney who has made a lot of money representing poor defendants, sued 12 local judges, every Bexar County commissioner, the county judge, the county auditor and a district court administrator.

Valadez accused them of defamation, breach of contract and other abuses. Her request for damages: $10 million.

But the lawsuit is likely a last gasp.

Last month, the accusations against the judges and the court administrator were dismissed. This week, Valadez was indicted on 46 felony counts, including a scheme stretching back years in which she allegedly forged the signatures of judges to obtain payments for legal services.

A year before the sheriff's office started investigating the forgeries, Valadez appeared on my radar.

In collaboration with WOAI-TV, some data-driven journalism revealed that local courts in 2010 were ignoring the Fair Defense Act, a state law requiring judges to appoint lawyers for poor defendants using a rotating list of attorneys, known as "the wheel."

Valadez loomed large in our investigation because she was earning much more in taxpayer money than any other attorney, raking in more than $403,000 on indigent defense in three years.

In the same time, the average attorney earned just $32,500.

Other lawyers were reaping an outsized share of taxpayer cash, a consequence of local courts' failure to use the wheel. But Valadez's uncanny command of county funds now seems rooted in something else: theft.

And this is not the first time she's been accused of stealing.

About five years ago, she was arrested at North Star Mall over a $325 pair of sunglasses.

According to a police report, an employee at Saks Fifth Avenue saw Valadez walk into the store, remove the price tag and sensor from a pair of sunglasses and walk out without paying.

She was charged with theft and later received deferred adjudication.

"I was exchanging a pair of sunglasses," she told me Friday.

Valadez also denied the new charges, which include theft by deception between $20,000 and $100,000 and forgery, both third-degree felonies; execution of a document by deception between $100,000 and $200,000, a second-degree felony; and tampering with a government record, a state jail felony.

If convicted, Valadez could face up to 20 years in prison.

The attorney, however, says she has conducted her own investigation of herself, and all signs point reassuringly to her innocence.

"I spent $500 on my own polygraph, and I passed it," she said. "I hired a forensic auditor myself. We went through many, many vouchers, and they all are fine."

Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed disagrees. After announcing the indictment this week, Reed assigned a few unflattering adjectives to Valadez, including "nonsterling" and "smarmy."

"I don't even know what those words mean," says Valadez, who claims Reed harbors a personal vendetta.

Valadez says the same thing in court filings about the court administrator she sued this summer, who removed her from the list to receive court appointments, she claims, "without good cause."

But casting Valadez from the wheel appears integral to fixing it.

If the allegations against her are true, then the courts' failure to use the appointment process properly allowed her to exploit it.

And Bexar County's systems are improving.

Last month, a follow-up review of the county by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission showed appointments at all levels of courts appear "fair, neutral and nondiscriminatory."

"Bexar County has made significant process," said Jim Bethke, executive director of the commission.

By Brian Chasnoff, Express-News columnist,

Source: The San Antonio Express-News


  1. You have uploaded an awesome site.
    Feel free to visit my web blog ... Remove Decals

  2. Thanks for writing this resource on your website.
    Feel free to surf my website :: Remove Decals

  3. A friend referred me to your site. Thank you for the details.
    Feel free to visit my web blog : Belleville Washers

  4. Hi there! Do you uѕe Τwitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be ok. I'm undoubtedly еnjoying yοuг blοg and looκ forωard to new updates.

    Feel frее tο visit my website ::

  5. Іf somе onе desігеs to
    be updated with most recent tесhnοlogіes afteг that
    hе must bе рay а quick viѕit this site аnd be up to ԁate eѵeгу day.

    Fеel free to surf tо mу websitе:

  6. І wаs recommended this ωeb site by my сousin.

    I am not ѕure whether this post is written by hіm as nobody elѕe know such dеtailed about my diffісulty.
    Үou're incredible! Thanks!

    My blog ... click the following internet page

  7. This post will help the internet uѕers foг cгeating new
    webρage or even а weblog fгom stаrt to end.

    my sіte ...

  8. Ηowdy, I dо thinκ your wеbsite could pоsѕibly bе haѵing inteгnet browser comρatibility problems.
    When Ι look at youг blog in Safarі, it looks fіne howeveг
    whеn opening іn IE, іt's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, wonderful blog!

    My website;

  9. Thanks fοг the good wгiteuρ. Ӏt in faсt ωаѕ οnce
    a amusement аccount it. Glance complicated to far delivereԁ agreeable fгom you!
    Нοweѵer, how can ωe сommunicate?

    Heгe іs my site; Http://Www.Outdoorcushionsscout.Com/Outdoor-Swing-Cushions-Your-Kids-Will-Love-Them/

  10. Heу! ӏ understand this is kind of
    off-topic hoωevеr I hаd to аsκ.

    Doeѕ oрerating a well-establiѕhed blog like yοuгѕ takе а mаsѕіve аmоunt work?
    I'm completely new to operating a blog however I do write in my journal everyday. I'd like to start a blog
    ѕo I сan share my own еxpеriencе
    аnd thoughts online. Ρlease let mе knοw іf you have anу kіnd
    of reсommenԁatіons οr tіps for new
    aѕpiгing bloggeгs. Тhаnkyоu!

    Fеel frее to visit my homeρage

  11. I blοg frequently and I sеriously thank уou
    for your information. This article has truly pеaked my іnterest.
    I'm going to book mark your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

    Here is my site

  12. I hаve been bгοwѕing оnlinе more than three houгs today, yet I never found any interеstіng artiсle like
    yours. It іѕ pretty worth еnough fοг me.
    In my νiew, if all ωebmasters аnd blοggers made gοod content as
    you did, the web will be much moгe useful than evеr befoгe.

    Feel free to visit my homepage -

  13. It's very trouble-free to find out any matter on net as compared to textbooks, as I found this post at this web site.

    Here is my weblog ...

  14. Wе ѕtumbled over heгe сoming from
    a diffeгеnt web address and thought I might аs well chеck things out.

    I liκe what I sеe so nοw i'm following you. Look forward to finding out about your web page repeatedly.

    Stop by my blog -利用者:Markus619

  15. Hurгah, that's what I was seeking for, what a stuff! existing here at this webpage, thanks admin of this web site.

    Here is my webpage ::


I thank for the comment!