Pictured: Jose Gonzalez

Family counselor placed on 'leave of absence'

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

Jose Gonzalez, the father of an Alice man currently involved in a standoff with federal agents in New Hampshire, said Monday he is making plans to travel to join his son.

Gonzalez said he and another son, Romeo Gonzalez, are making preparations to drive to New Hampshire to visit Cirino Gonzalez, who is currently involved in a standoff with U.S. Marshals.

That standoff began in January, at the 110-acre estate of Ed and Elaine Brown, who have been convicted of tax evasion. The Browns have refused to recognize the authority of the court and the jury that issued that verdict, and maintain there is no federal law requiring them to pay income taxes. Cirino Gonzalez and several other supporters have joined the Browns in their home and have issued statements indicating they would kill any law enforcement officials who would attempt to arrest them.

Jose Gonzalez said he was placed on a "leave of absence" from his job at the Alice Counseling Center last week, which gave him the time to travel to visit Cirino.

"I don't think they're going to have me back, so I think I'm fired," Gonzalez said. "They're afraid that since they are a non-profit organization, their funding has a lot of these anti-terrorism clauses in it, and they're afraid my having anything to do with the Alice Counseling Center will place their funding in jeopardy."

Gonzalez said he had been working as an intern at the center as part of his program to obtain a master's degree, and was hired as an employee two weeks ago.

Gonzalez said he was pleased with the attention his son's situation was receiving from news media, but that in addition to costing him his job it was straining other relationships with family and neighbors.

"I have received 99 percent negative feedback. Not because people think I'm doing something bad, but because they think I'm wasting my time," Gonzalez said. "All I want to do is create attention on the situation to keep it from escalating into violence."

Gonzalez said he and his son Romeo, who is a police officer with the Premont Police Department, hope to communicate with the Browns to develop a well-defined goal for the standoff and to open negotiations with U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier, who is charged with the arrest of the Browns.

"I asked (Cirino) to get Ed back into the spirit of negotiation so we can see a logical end to this other than they're going to come in to get us and we're going to shoot at them," Gonzalez said. "Right now, there's no negotiation, and that's not good."

In a previous interview, Gonzalez had indicated that he would take weapons with him to New Hampshire to defend Cirino if the federal agents raided the home. On Monday, he said he had spoken with Monier and was willing to compromise.

"Marshal Monier advised against me going up there at all," Gonzalez said. "As a compromise, I'm going up there but I'm not taking my guns."