LUBBOCK, Texas — The federal trial of former San Angelo Police Chief Timothy R. Vasquez has started in US District Court in Lubbock. Vasquez is facing one count of bribery and three counts of honest service mail fraud.
A jury was selected and seated Monday morning and opening arguments commenced Monday afternoon.
An indictment, filed Jan. 8, 2020, said the purpose of the scheme and artifice to defraud was for Vasquez to covertly use his position as police chief to enrich himself and others by soliciting and accepting bribes, gifts, payments and other things of value from Dailey and Wells Communications (DWC), and its affiliates, in exchange for favorable actions in connection with the purchase and "upgrade" of a radio communication system.
According to KCBD in Lubbock, Sean Long, prosecutor for the State said, the City of San Angelo in 2007, needed a new communication system. They put it out for bid and was awarded to DWC, and shortly thereafter they started making payments to Vasquez for his band, Funky Munky.
DWC is alleged to have paid the band $10,000, then $8,000, and so on every year starting in 2007–2016. They paid $84,000 for 10 performances and average of $8,400 for “anniversary parties”.
"We will show that this band was usually paid about $2,100 per performance. In 2014, San Angelo looked for a new contract which would be about $6 million. Vasquez was pushing DWC again for this contract. He used his influence by calling City Council members. He pushed the new project as a public safety issue and it needed to be done now," Long said in opening arguments.
Long said Vasquez kept pushing DWC as the system the City needed and the city then awarded them the $5.7 million contract.
The State alleges DWC then paid Vasquez for more performances.
In November 2016, Vasquez finds out there is a investigation, Long said.
DWC paid $178,382 over this time - $84,000 before 2015 and $94,000 after the contract was awarded, the State said.
"Acting as the chief of police for the city, he assured the city that he was acting in the city’s best interests and didn’t inform them of the payments that were made to him by DWC," Long said. "DWC paid Vasquez four times what his band normally was paid. So what were they paying for? They were paying for the value that his weight carried."
David Guinn, defense attorney, said one didn’t have anything to do with the other, saying Vasquez was paid for the performance of his band.
"You will see his tax returns - San Angelo is not the same as San Antonio. What you get paid in San Angelo is less than what you would get paid in San Antonio. They are a cover band, they don’t have original material. If there is equipment that breaks you have to pay for it out-of-pocket," Guinn said. "You will find out about how the pay works in different markets. You will learn that DWC sells these communication systems that are very good. These are the same radios that the LPD uses and several other cities."
"These $8,000 payments are for two nights. You have to take eight-nine people to San Antonio, you got to pay for gas, everybody has to eat you got to pay for a place to stay. It cost a lot of money to travel and preform. He got into a band and got really good but he also got into law enforcement. He got elected as police chief and kept his band."
The defense continued saying Vasquez was invited to tour with Toby Keith and others, but stuck around to be the chief.
"You look at the city council meetings you will see that this other guy, Bucky Hasty, was asked to explain the new system to them. He is not prepared to do so and doesn’t like to speak in public. He goes to the chief and asks him to help him. Bucky sent Tim his power point and Tim said it was good didn’t change anything, Guinn continued.
"In 2007, this guy was in San Angelo and told someone at the City, 'Man, I don’t know what to do, I have this event and my band just bailed on me. The City person told him, 'Hey, the chief has a band and gave him is number.' The event was great and so they guy then hired them to keep doing the annual event. And that turned into a tradition."
Bucky Hasty, City of San Angelo Director of IT Department, said his department is the primary for communications equipment and said Vasquez was already the chief when he was hired.
Hasty disclosed during this time frame, he had a drinking problem but does not believe that has affected his ability to remember the events as they occurred.
He told the court Larry Sayles was their rep from DWC and they worked out a plan to get a new system that would take three years to offset the cost of the system all at once, but they decided not to go with that plan.
Hasty told the court most systems have a life span of seven-eight years and the radios they had were at the end of life, and he talked to Vasquez about the need for a new system.
He alleges Vasquez said he didn’t want to use a RFP and that they would find another way to get it and said the former police chief told him the State had mandated that all municipalities had to move to the P25 system.
Hasty said he later found out that was not accurate, and there was only certain funding that would not be available if a City was not on the P25 system.
Vasquez faces up to 70 years if convicted.
The trial will resume Tuesday.
This is a developing story. More information will be posted as it becomes available from the trial.