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Aug. 9, 2011

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Webb County Deputy Constable Indicted for Accepting Bribes

LAREDO, Texas - A Webb County Deputy Constable has been arrested following the return of an indictment by a Laredo grand jury accusing him of accepting bribes in his official capacity and accessing protected computer information, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Cory B. Nelson and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas E. Hinojosa.

A four-count indictment was returned under seal on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, charging Deputy Constable Eduardo Garcia, 44, of Laredo, with three counts of extortion under color of official right, that is, accepting bribes from another purported engaged in criminal conduct including illegal narcotics trafficking in exchange for the performing or not performing an official act. The fourth count of the indictment accuses Garcia of unauthorized access to protected computer information.

Garcia was arrested by FBI agents late yesterday afternoon. He made his initial appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Guillermo Garcia at which time the indictment was officially unsealed and Garcia was ordered temporarily detained pending a detention hearing set for Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker.

According to allegations in the indictment, Garcia has been a peace officer since 1993. During all times relevant to the indictment, he was employed as a deputy constable involved in operating a prison transport van among other duties. In or about Oct. 22, 2008, Garcia is accused of accepting a $500 bribe to provide protection for a vehicle which he believed to be transporting in excess of 500 grams of cocaine from south Laredo to north Laredo. He is also accused of accepting another $500 bribe on Nov. 21, 2008, to escort a second vehicle he believed to be transporting cocaine. Garcia is accused in the third count of the indictment of accepting a $200 bribe to cause another to check a license plate number for a specific license plate through the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (TLETs), a protected computer system in March 2011. Lastly, Garcia is accused of a violating the computer fraud and abuse act by causing another person to exceed authorized access by performing a license plate check and obtaining information from a protected computer.

Each of the three Hobbs Act violations carries a statutory maximum penalty upon conviction of 20 years in prison without parole and a $250,000 fine. The alleged computer abuse and fraud act violation carries a maximum five-year-term of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine upon conviction.

The investigation resulting in the charges against Garcia was conducted by the Laredo offices of the FBI and the DEA. Assistant United States Attorneys Roberto F. Ramirez and Elizabeth R. Rabe are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.