Ken Paxton

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bastrop County Officials Indicted for Diverting Taxpayer Resources for Personal Use

BASTROP A grand jury today returned public corruption indictments against Bastrop County Sheriff Richard Hernandez and Bastrop County Commissioner David A. Goertz. Prosecutors with the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sought the indictments after a state investigation revealed the two officials were diverting county resources for their personal benefit.

Hernandez, 51, and Goertz, 51, were each charged with one count of abuse of official capacity for illegally misusing taxpayer resources, including county equipment, materials, inmate labor, facilities, and credit accounts.

Texans will not tolerate government officials who violate the public trust, Attorney General Abbott said. Any public servants who choose to unlawfully enrich themselves at the taxpayers’ expense must be held accountable for violating the law. The citizens of Bastrop County can rest assured that the Office of Attorney General is aggressively prosecuting these officials for abusing their positions.

According to court documents filed by the Attorney General, Goertz used county inmate labor to perform electrical wiring and several other work projects at his home. These documents indicate that inmates also constructed a steel railing and two barbecue pits that were later installed at the county commissioner’s private residence. The Attorney General’s investigation also revealed that Goertz approved overtime pay for a county employee who supervised inmates while they worked on these non-county projects. State investigators conducted a search of Goertz’s residence on Tuesday.

Hernandez is charged with using county materials, taxpayer resources, and inmate labor to construct barbecue pits that he later sold for personal profit. According to state investigators, Bastrop County resources were used to build and improve a mobile barbecue trailer that the sheriff later sold for his personal benefit. Hernandez required the buyer to pay him with cash. State investigators conducted a search of the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.

Following the indictments, arrest warrants for Hernandez and Goertz were issued, and those warrants are being served by law enforcement officers with the Office of the Attorney General.