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Texas Rangers find no criminal activity in Goliad money mismanagement

By JR Ortega
May 30, 2014 at 12:30 a.m.
Updated May 31, 2014 at 12:31 a.m.

Mike Sheppard, DeWitt County District Attorney

A more than half-year investigation by law enforcement into the city of Goliad's mishandling of $1 million of public money has concluded.

Officials concluded that no felonies were committed, District Attorney Michael Sheppard said Friday.

The investigation into the city's municipal development district was conducted by the Texas Rangers and an FBI agent retained by the district attorney's office.

A 2013 Advocate investigation found the development district was riddled with poor record-keeping, questionable loan practices and missing documents.

Before the Texas Rangers could close the investigation, Sheppard had to complete his analysis of the city's banking records.

No further investigation is being discussed, Sheppard said.

Goliad City Administrator Larry Zermeno said he was "elated" with the conclusion.

"It's what we expected," he said. "Since day one, we've welcomed the investigation. We can make mistakes like anyone else."

In September, Sheppard brought in the Texas Rangers to conduct the investigation.

Sheppard said it would be hard to know what the Rangers found specifically.

"Things can be bad policy and bad politics and not be a felony," he said. "It's up to the public to decide what they view as acceptable."

To pursue a local investigation, Sheppard said, would have been a Catch-22, meaning either the outcome would be seen by the public as being swept under the rug or as authorities charging themselves to cover themselves up.

Investigations, however, are never technically closed, he added.

"This is why we asked the Rangers to do it," he said. "It's more objective. They don't know any of the players."

Goliad resident Linda Powell, who brought the mishandling to the public's attention about a year ago, was not surprised by the findings.

"It's almost like a whitewashing of everything, and the citizens deserve better than that," Powell said.

Powell said she thinks the investigation was limited because she has the paper trail showing the mismanagement and does not understand how something felonious could not have been uncovered.

"It's as clear as the day is long," she said of the money errors. "If you don't turn over every stone, you are not going to find the problems."

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