As of Sept. 10 at 2:55 p.m., Alice Police Department Sgt. Enrique Saenz was placed on "indefinite suspension" due to findings made in an independent investigation, according to Alice Police Chief Aniceto "Cheto" Perez.
In March, Saenz was placed on administrative leave with pay and authorities would not elaborate on Saenz's leave and stated that Saenz was a "distraction."
The investigation by an independent internal affairs investigator hired by the city concluded that Saenz conducted some unlawful actions using his work computer and claimed unworked overtime hours.
"On or about March 19, 2019, the FBI served a search and seizure warrant on the Alice Police Department. (They) seized evidence relating to the alleged unauthorized use of government office equipment, including information technology," Perez said in a charge letter to Saenz.
In the letter, Perez stated that Saenz admitted to using the police department's system to conduct searches on "friends and family members," on Alice "Mayor Jolene Vanover" and Alice citizen "Newell Atkinson."
"The statement from the Chief is inaccurate. It is written to support his decision to fire (Saenz) and it is false and without substantiation," said Celeste Robertson, Saenz's CLEAT attorney.
Saenz also admitted to claiming a minimum of two hour pay, including overtime pay, on numerous occasions without being called back to work when he was a sleep and was "unnecessarily disturbed," according to the charge letter.
Vanover is upset that someone in law enforcement, a trusted individual, would abuse his authority and search her name without purpose, she said.
"The main reason, I feel, Mr. Saenz was trying to dig up dirt on me was because of my open opposition of the way the police union was exploiting Alice taxpayers. Since Ricky Saenz was the president of the police union, we had many battles on social media," Atkinson said. "Bottom line, it was politics."
With the investigation findings, Saenz is alleged to have abused his official capacity and abused call back time provisions according to the police collective bargaining agreement.
"But for the service of an FBI search warrant on the (Alice Police) Department, the facts that came (to) light in this IA investigation could have easily stayed hidden. That is usually the nature of conduct that relates to possible criminal activity...," Perez wrote. "Having the benefit to discuss this IA file with you at the due process hearing, it does not appear that you accept any responsibility for the policy violations raised here...Therefore, based on the evidence contained in the IA file, and based on your own unwillingness to accept any responsibility in connection with these allegations, I find that an indefinite suspension is warranted and justified under the circumstances presented to me here."
The 30-year veteran officer had been with the Alice PD since 2007 and was working with the Criminal Investigative Division. At this time, the FBI case against Saenz "appears open."
"The FBI in no way implicated (Saenz)," Robertson said. "We have appealed the decision and will have an arbitrator hear his case at a public hearing. The actions of the City are treacherous. We look forward to shining a light on the truth of how corrupt politics are in Alice, Texas."