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Hidalgo County Pct. 3 Commissioner Joe Flores has filed his own lawsuit after he was called out in yet another case alleging he is pulling the political strings of western Hidalgo County.
Flores’ suit was filed May 8 against former State Rep. Kino Flores; Ruth Villarreal, a former insurance provider for La Joya Independent School District; and Arnold Ochoa, a former La Joya ISD trustee and former city of Palmview employee.
Also named in his suit is Javier Peña, the attorney who filed separate suits on behalf of Villarreal and Ochoa.
Peña also filed suit, on behalf of a few dozen current and former La Joya ISD employees, against the school district, its trustees and Joe Flores. The suit alleges the employees were harassed as political retaliation after the 2012 district election.
According to Joe Flores, the suits filed against him because he supported Team Liberty, a slate of candidates in the 2012 La Joya ISD board election that ran against Kino Flores’ chosen candidates.
“In furtherance of their conspiracy, Defendants have conspired together to employ attorney Defendant Javier Peña to repeatedly sue Plaintiff Flores by fabricating numerous false, baseless, slanderous and libelous remarks to publish against him in the forum of public litigation,” the suit states.
In a plea to jurisdiction to have the case thrown out and a counterclaim, Peña compared Joe Flores’ behavior to the mafia. Peña stated that the fact that the sitting judge on one of the cases denied a motion to dismiss proves the lawsuits are not frivolous.
“For many years, Joe M. Flores considered himself an untouchable public figure,” Peña’s suit states. “”Because of this perception, he became more drunk with power and blatant with his own corruption.”
But, Peña states, Joe Flores has become desperate to maintain his power.
“Joe M. Flores has been sued for his role in this network of corruption because his network of corruption has and continues to destroy lives,” Peña’s suit states.
In an answer, Joe Flores denied all of the allegations.
May 15, Peña sent a notice of subpoena to Ricardo Perez of the Palmview Banking Center in Mission, asking that he provide information related to the termination of Ochoa’s employment as well as bank statements on accounts on which Joe Flores is a signatory.
Flores’ attorneys promptly filed a motion to quash that subpoena and requested a restraining order.
Meanwhile, La Joya ISD requested Peña’s suit filed on behalf of the former employees be moved to federal court. Trustees Joel Garcia, Juan Jose “J.J.” Garza, Jesus “Chuy” Avendaño and Oscar “Coach” Salinas are named along with the district and Joe Flores as defendants.
The following are allegations made in the lawsuit, which has been sent to the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas to deliberate its merits:
*Felipe Del Angel was demoted from field supervisor to groundskeeper.
*It alleges Belinda Garcia, who works as a public information officer, has received harassing text messages from trustee Garcia and his son. The suit states Belinda Garcia has received text messages at all hours of the night from the son. It also states her position was placed on a La Joya ISD board meeting agenda “in an effort to further harass her.”
*Albert Guerrero was a parent involvement strategist at the district who received a salary decrease, a demotion and a decrease in workdays, according to the suit.
*Anselmo Barrera was moved from public relations with Crime Stoppers to night patrol. The district’s answer to the suit states Barrera voluntarily resigned.
*Araceli Montes, a cook, had her employment terminated.
*Mayra Cantu, a student services clerk, alleges she was given more work to force her to resign.
*Edgar Ibarra and Maritza Cardenas worked with a bilingual/ESL project when “without reason LJISD decided to cancel the federally funded project in an effort to create new positions to place supporters. This was done even though the new positions would cost LJISD taxpayer (sic) more,” the suit states. Ibarra was forced to sign a contract as a teacher.
*Estella Perez is a cafeteria manager who was moved from Benavidez Elementary to Mendiola Elementary.
*Gloria Chapa, a cafeteria helper, was moved to a school farther from her home.
*Francisco Javier Medina was a custodial manager supervisor who was suspended and then discharged in March 2013.
*Jose Alberto Covarrubia, a substitute custodian, was forced to resign. The district’s answer to the suit states Covarrubia was given the option to voluntarily resign in lieu of termination.
*Karey Villarreal is a TTIPS grand coordinator who states she’s being harassed.
*Laura Ruiz, a bilingual/ESL strategist, was fired.
*Maria de Hoyos, a cafeteria helper, was injured on the job, the suit states, and then was harassed and told she would lose her job if she did not come back.
*Maria Zuniga, a cafeteria manager, said she was given unjustified write-ups and then transferred.
*Patricia Gonzalez, a cafeteria helper, was moved to a different campus.
*Pedro Villalon, a journeyman plumber, was moved to the child nutrition services department from the physical plant.
*Petra Reyna, a cafeteria manager, was demoted.
*Rebecca Valdez, a migrant worker, was demoted, reassigned and then terminated. The district suit denies she was employed as a migrant worker.
*Rosemary Bernal, an inventory clerk, was demoted and then transferred.
*Sabrina Zamora, attendance clerk, was transferred.
*Carlos Guzman, a custodian, believes he was harassed, transferred and denied a grievance for supporting the wrong party.
*Nora Gonzalez, a caterer with Child Nutrition Services, said she was demoted to a different campus and made a helper.
*Jesus Garza, a head mechanic, was transferred and demoted.
*Xochil Chiu and Alma Chapa, both cafeteria managers, were reassigned to different campuses.
* Gracie Zamora was reassigned.
*Renato Valdez, a custodian, was “constructively discharged.” The district’s answer to the suit states Valdez resigned in lieu of termination.
The school district’s answer denies any harassment or hostile work environment. In each case, the answer states all actions were in accordance with the district’s policies and procedures.
Peña’s suit alleges that each of the employees represented did not support Team Liberty, “a political faction headed by Defendant Joe Flores.”
“Defendant Flores used his influence and control over the LJISD Board of Trustees and LJISD supervisory employees as a tool to punish the Plaintiffs for their failure to support Team Liberty,” the suit continues.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.