Nov. 16--Federal prosecutors will link Cirilo "Chilo" Madrid, the former CEO of a behavioral health agency, to other aspects of El Paso's far-reaching public corruption scandal when he goes on trial Dec. 3.
Madrid, the politically connected former CEO of Aliviane Inc., will be tried for his alleged role in a federally funded program meant to help children with severe mental illness. Two other officials have already pleaded guilty to a bribery scheme that defrauded the program of $550,000.
In a pretrial hearing Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Juanita Fielden and William Lewis Jr. said they planned to call former county chief of staff Travis Ketner and former El Paso Independent School District Trustees Sal Mena and Carlos "Coach" Cordova as witnesses in the case. The three have been convicted in the city's 8-year-old public corruption scandal.
Madrid didn't appear at a hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in which prosecutors did not say why they planned to call Ketner, Mena and Cordova.
But Leon Schydlower, Madrid's attorney decried as a "discovery dump" the 24 disks of material that prosecutors handed over to him last week.
"I've got 15,000 to 20,000 documents I have to go through," he said.
Lewis said the amount of information was less than that, and said that it included plea agreements, sentencing transcripts and wiretap information concerning Ketner, Mena and Cordova. Prosecutors turned over the information because they planned
to call them as witnesses, Lewis said.
Lewis said prosecutors don't plan to call former County Judge Dolores Briones. She pleaded guilty in December 2011 to accepting bribes from Madrid and Ruben "Sonny" Garcia in 2005 and 2006 in exchange for her support of a contract between the county-run Border Children's Mental Health Collaborative and LKG Enterprises Inc., a company owned by Garcia, who pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme in the summer.
In a 2010 sworn deposition, Madrid admitted that LKG paid him $100,000 to produce a 20-page report for the collaborative, and that he plagiarized parts of it from the Internet. He is charged with bribery and taking federal funds for work he didn't do.
"In other words, stealing money from a government contract," U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo said during Thursday's hearing.
While prosecutors don't plan to call Briones, sister of U.S. District Judge David Briones, to testify, Madrid does, Lewis said. It's unclear how Schydlower believes her testimony will help his client.
It's also not clear why prosecutors think Ketner's testimony will help convict Madrid.
Ketner was chief of staff to former County Judge Anthony Cobos, who succeeded Briones as county judge in 2007. Later that year, Ketner pleaded guilty in a secret proceeding to a charging document accusing him of participation in numerous schemes to shake down county contractors.
This summer, prosecutors filed documents in Madrid's case accusing him of bribing Cobos to help the Border Children's Mental Health Collaborative keep its contract with LKG after federal officials had raised concerns about the company's performance.
Cobos faces an unrelated federal indictment and has not been charged in the LKG matter.
"On or about December 7, 2006, defendant Madrid and co-conspirator met with the El Paso County Judge-Elect to discuss LKG Enterprises, Inc.'s (LKG) contract with El Paso County and LKG's continuation as the evaluation provider of the BCMHC grant," the document prosecutors filed in Madrid's case says. "During the meeting, Madrid and his co-conspirator each passed envelopes containing cash to the El Paso County Judge-Elect to gain the Judge-Elect's support of LKG."
The document said "the bribe was directed at the person who would assume the position of the prior elected official he and his co-conspirator had bribed."
The amount of money allegedly given to Cobos is not revealed in the documents. Other documents stated that Dolores Briones, his predecessor, was given $24,000 in 2005 and 2006.
Mena and Cordova, two other witnesses prosecutors plan to call, appear to have no connection to LKG's contract with the collaborative.
Mena, a former member of the EPISD Board of Trustees, pleaded guilty in 2009 to his involvement in a scheme involving Access HealthSource, a health insurance provider.
In court documents, prosecutors said Dolores Briones took bribes in that scheme, but they didn't charge her.
In March, Montalvo sentenced Cordova, also a former member of the El Paso school board, to two years of probation and ordered him to pay a $140,000 fine.
Four years earlier, Cordova pleaded guilty to charges that while he was on the school board, he traded his vote for money in support of a unnamed vendor that sought to do business with the district.
Cordova and Mena were members of the EPISD board in 2002 when New Beginnings of Texas, a company run by Madrid and Garcia, pitched a five-year, $3.2 million dropout-recovery program. Mena put Madrid's proposal on the March 26, 2002, school board agenda.
In August, prosecutors filed documents in Madrid's case saying that Cordova and an unnamed trustee were bribed by Madrid and Garcia in exchange for their support of the New Beginnings project, which was later deemed ineffective.
Marty Schladen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6127.
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