El Paso D.A. says his office never declined EPPD investigation into misuse of city gas cards
UPDATE (5/25/23): El Paso D.A. Bill Hicks followed up with Assistant District Attorney Doug Tiemann who told him he only spoke with an El Paso Police detective on one occasion for about 45 minutes.
"Mr. Tiemann emphasizes what I emphasized, which is that the case, the facts of the case, the whole case, was never presented," Hicks said. "He never said the case is declined, we cannot prosecute it. It was a discussion of what it would take to the elements of theft and Doug was telling him you don't have one of the elements of theft, you don't have evidence to get to one of the elements of theft."
Hicks told ABC-7 on Wednesday it would be a violation of office policy to provide an advisory opinion. ABC-7 asked him if Tiemann violated that policy.
"I think it was an interpretation of what Doug was saying to the detective that is maybe a little, maybe a miscommunication. I think Doug was right on the line of what an advisory opinion is and is not. And I think the detective maybe misinterpreted what Doug was telling him."
Hicks says only theft was discussed and nothing about abuse of power.
ORIGINAL REPORT: EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — El Paso District Attorney Bill Hicks says his office never declined a case looking into alleged misuse of taxpayer-funded gas cards by District 3 City Representative Cassandra Hernandez and former District 6 City Representative Claudia Rodriguez.
That’s because he says his office was never presented a case by the El Paso Police Department.
But a report from the El Paso Police Department states a prosecutor within the D.A.’s office “advised that the incident still did not rise to the elements of any crime.”
The police report indicates Assistant District Attorney Doug Tiemann “went through the details again and this time was able to point out that the fuel card in question was issued out in violation of the policy as it is written.”
If true, D.A. Hicks told ABC-7 that would be a violation of his office’s rules.
“Today [ABC-7] you’ve provided new information,” Hicks said. “My information is that when Doug spoke to him, that conversation was strictly about what are the elements of different crimes and what's necessary to prove those crimes. They did not discuss the facts of the case.”
Hicks says he does not know if there were any subsequent conversations between Tiemann and the detective, but he will follow-up with him.
He says if Tiemann violated policy he will have to address it with the entire staff. But he cannot confirm at this time if that occurred, or if the police report is inaccurate.
ABC-7 requested an interview with the El Paso Police Department.
Sgt. Robert Gomez deferred the inquiry to City Spokeswoman Laura Cruz-Acosta, but she declined an on-camera interview because she said the police report is publicly available.
However, ABC-7 is still requesting an interview with Interim Police Chief Peter Pacillas. He initially launched the investigation after Chief Internal Auditor Edmundo Calderon requested surveillance video from gas stations where the alleged incidents occurred.
Calderon told city council during a special session he never saw any surveillance video and the police investigation was closed 17 days prior to his final report.
ABC-7 will continue to follow developments in this story.