Barrera says office is mismanaged

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

Armando Barrera believes voters should select him as their new district attorney to remove what he sees as mismanagement and corruption from the office.

Barrera is a 1964 Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco High School graduate, and received a bachelor's degree in Animal Science from Texas A&I University in Kingsville in 1968.

He was drafted into the army in 1969 and served for two years before receiving an honorable discharge. In 1973, he graduated from St. Mary's School of Law, and opened a private practice in 1974.

He and his wife, Gracie, have three daughters, one who is a pediatrician, one who is an assistant principal and one who is an attorney.

He and his brother, Charles Barrera, were partners with Terry Canales before Canales was elected as district judge. The practice specialized in criminal defense for many years, Barrera said, and in recent years has branched out into civil work.

Barrera said he chose to run for district attorney because he is disappointed with what he calls the current district attorney's failure to prosecute cases.

"The reason I'm running is because of this district attorney's failure to prosecute cases," Barrera said. "Crime is out of hand. Our community is not safe. Our children are not safe."

Barrera said research performed by his office indicated that from 1998 to July 2007 the district attorney's office issued 1,152 indictments, but 598 of those were dismissed by the district attorney.

"That is a 51 percent dismissal rate," Barrera said. "There are very few cases that are ever tried here. The criminals just have no respect for the system in Jim Wells County and in Brooks.

"It's a shameful situation."

Barrera also questioned the use of money from the drug forfeiture fund. He said audits from the Texas Attorney General's Office from 2000 to 2006 show Garza used $3,200,436 from the forfeiture fund for his own office during that time.

"That's in addition to the budget they get from Jim Wells County," Barrera said. "For their salaries, in addition to what they already receive, they have pocketed $1,582,985 of the public's money."

If he were elected, Barrera said he would take all forfeiture fund expenditures before the commissioner's court for approval.

Barrera also questioned what he called "selective prosecution," by the district attorney's office.

"These victims are bitter and disappointed," Barrera said. "At some point this has to stop, and this has to change. That's what I want to do."

Barrera said he has the experience necessary to do the job, including working as a special prosecutor on some cases.

"If I get elected, I will not be trained by anybody," Barrera said. "I already have the experience. I have tried hundreds of cases."

Barrera said voters should select him as their new district attorney because he would restore "trust and confidence" in the office.

"I think I can make justice a reality for all of our citizens, if I'm elected," Barrera said. "When the criminal element becomes aware that if you commit a crime you're going to be tried, and the community, the jury is going to decide your fate, things are going to change."