Hidalgo County sheriff sued over drug dealer campaign contributions

Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño

A lawsuit filed today against Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevio says he owes his former political opponent $20,000 because he illegally accepted two $5,000 cash donations from a known drug dealer from Weslaco.

The lawsuit was filed with the 93rd district court by attornery Javier Pea who represents Robert Caples, Sheriff Trevio's political opponent in the 2012 general election.

Caples told Action 4 News that the donations are illegal because candidates cannot accept more than $100 in cash as campaign contributions.

Court documents state because Trevio accepted the cash donations which are over the limit Caples is legally entitled to double the amount of the unlawful contribution.

The lawsuit refers to Election Code 253.131 which states any opponent who ran against a person who accepted illegal contributions is entitled to double the amount of the unlawful contribution.

During the 2012 election, Trevio received two $5,000 cash donations from Tomas "El Gallo" Gonzalez who was recently indicated on drug conspiracy charges.

Hidalgo Sheriff's Office commander Jose "Joe" Padilla, who was indicted Christmas Eve on similar charges, allegedly hand delivered the cash to Sheriff Trevio

Instead of returning the money, it was deposited into his campaign account where it was counted as a campaign contribution.

Action 4 News contacted Sheriff Trevio who did not want to comment on the lawsuit because he has not been served court documents concerning the case.

The lawsuit comes after Caples filed a complaint with The Texas Ethics Commission two weeks ago.

The complaint states Trevio violated the law by depositing the two $5,000 cash contributions into his campain account.

In the January 15, 2014 Action 4 News article Trevio gave this statement regarding the complaint:

"The only way to return the funds was to put it into an account and return it," he said. "I did it for the right and honorable reasons."

He said he followed the advice of Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra.

"At least you made it public and you have a record that you tried to deliver the money back to the individual who allegedly gave you the money," he said about the advice.

Caples, who is also a private investigator said he is looking into other cases of illegal contributions made to Trevio's campaign.

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