A request for an audit of funds used by the Jim Wells County District Attorney's Office revealed cases in Brooks County haven't been paid as per agreement.
The audit was requested by JWC District Judge Richard C. Terrell to County Auditor Noe Gamez on Thursday, Sept. 13.
According to Judge Terrell's letter, it appears that a large amount of JWC money is being utilized to subsidize District Attorney operations in Brooks County.
District Attorney Carlos Omar Garcia and his staff conduct business in both counties. They travel between the two counties to prosecute cases.
An agreement exists between the two counties on how expenses in Brooks County should be paid according to the percent of the caseload. However, a copy of that agreement was unavailable as of Thursday afternoon.
According to Judge Terrell's letter, “the adopted Brooks County budget and the proposed Jim Wells County budget show the following general fund expenditures for the 79th Judicial District Attorney's office:
Brooks : $33,523.93
Jim Wells: $744,255
The letter also states that in 2017, 32 percent (82 cases) of the new criminal cases filed in District Court were filed in Brooks County; and from January to June 2018, there were 31 percent (99 cases) of the new cases were from Brooks County.
According to Judge Terrell's letter, these figures reflect that JWC is paying 96 percent of the total general fund expenditures and Brooks only has paid the remainder 4 percent. Brooks County pays the salary for one staff member.
"I have reviewed (Gamez's) audit. The audit breaks down the general budget for both counties," Garcia stated. "What wasn't considered in the audit is the state funding my office brings in."
Garcia gave examples on the state funding received by his office that include funds from the attorney general and the Border of Prosecution Grant that pays for things neither county can afford.
Gamez conducted his audit based upon Judge Terrell's hand-delivered letter and revealed his findings and recommendation.
Gamez findings, according to the audit, were that using the 2017 caseload numbers to project 2018 Brooks County Supplement to JWC at 50 percent is $366,790. But the actual caseload numbers for January through June is 52 percent or total of 167 cases in Brooks and 154 cases in JWC, indicating that Brooks County Supplement should be a total of $381,461.60.
And the third finding was that JWC has received no supplementation from Brooks County for the 2017-18 term.
Gamez's recommendation is that, "Jim Wells County funds are to be used solely for Jim Wells County business and not be used to subsidize District Attorney operations in Brooks County. Therefore, supplemental compensation should be made to Jim Wells County immediately. Failure to comply with this recommendation will result in termination of services funded by Jim Wells County funds."
"I do agree with the county auditor on the financial issues. I don't disagree in finding solutions for the short funding," Garcia said. "We need to look at the whole picture."
JWC Judge Pete Trevino said he did not want to comment until he reviews the numbers of the audit and researches the issue.