Documents outline a possible illegal marriage scheme.
A valley couple is accusing Justice of the Peace Erin Hernandez Garcia, her brother, and father of performing and allowing 'quickie marriages' to take place in Cameron County. Attorney Louis Sorola is representing the couple and said his clients feel naive. Claudia Gonzalez and Alberto Maldonado married earlier this May, and five months later, they are questioning if their marriage is even legal.
"She acted under color of law because she's a Justice of the Peace she has the legal right to marry people, but she doesn TMt have the legal right to waive the 72 hour requirement," said Sorola.
He TMs referring to Justice of the Peace Erin Hernandez Garcia of Brownsville.
The civil lawsuit claims the judge performed "quickie marriages" by illegally waiving the required 72 hour waiting period.
Since Claudia's husband, Alberto is not a U.S. citizen, the problem is that the Department of Immigration is questioning their marital process.
"These waivers that this judge signed for these parties and 13 others don't exist. So, if they TMre in immigration court and they have to prove that a judge allowed for this waiver there TMs nothing, nothing at all, but their word against the Justice of the Peace," said Sorola. He claimed at least 13 waivers were signed by Judge Garcia.
Solora said all are believed to be invalid|never making their way to the district clerk's office where they are supposed to be submitted.
The couple allegedly paid Judge Garcia almost $250 to conduct the marriage and sign the petition for the 72 hour waiver.
Action 4 asked where that money was going.
Into the Justice of the Peace's pocket," replied Sorola
Just how much has been pocketed? Solora does not really know and said more victims may be out there.
Court documents show Cameron County and Judge Garcia's father, Commissioner Ernest Hernandez Jr, are also named in the lawsuit stating that both were supposed to monitor and oversee Judge Garcia.
The couple is seeking $500,000 in damages and want it to be known they had no knowledge or involvement in the suspected fraudulent marriage.
Their attorneys have also requested for the judge's father to cease and desist from preventing or requiring the county auditor to look into his daughter's affairs at her office.