Leaking of El Paso Police report in officer-state representative accident could be crime

Police Officer/State Rep Report was leaked days after crash

POSTED: 12:20 PM MDT May 08, 2013    UPDATED: 06:27 PM MST Jan 15, 2014 

The "October surprise" that blindsided then-State Rep. Dee Margo could not have come at a worse time.

"I was shocked," Margo said.

A police report was created by El Paso Police officers the night of Sept. 7, 2012, stating Margo had intentionally crashed into an off-duty police officer then evaded arrest.  The offense, as described in the report, is a felony

District Attorney Jaime Esparza said he and the overnight prosecutor were called that night.

The police department's internal investigation documents obtained by the ABC-7 I-team contains a lieutenant's claim that the DA's office had signed off on the charges against Margo.

"(Assistant District Attorney George) Havlovic did state the initial charge was a good charge and as for the evading, it was possible," Lt. Ricardo Medina said in the document.

Esparza denies the account of what happened.

"We sent them on their way, if they felt a crime had been committed, they needed to do more work," Esparza said.

Police say the investigation went nowhere, even though an internal audit shows police officers and supervisors looked at the case hundreds of times.

"The report should have been approved that night or at the latest, the next day," said police spokesman Sgt. Chris Mears.

Once the case was approved, it would have progressed to the point of formal charges, or it would have been thrown out.

Margo said he never knew he was listed as a felony offender in the crash report.  But Democrats did know.

The crash happened on Friday, September 7.  The following Tuesday, a researcher in Austin working for a Democratic political action committee filed an open records request asking for details of the accident. That same week, the internal investigation reveals Margo's opposition was trying to get a hold of officer Machorro.

"(My dad) was approached on Wednesday or Thursday of the same week by Dee Margo's election competition, whom I don't recall the name asking if they could speak with me," Machorro told internal investigators.

Machorro's father, Albert Machorro Sr. is an investigator with the DA's office.

ABC-7 contacted Machorro Sr. and asked who it was from Moody's camp that contacted him about the unfounded crash report.

"I don't know if I can tell you that," Machorro Sr. said.

In a conversation 30 min. later he said attorneys in the district attorney's office told him not to give ABC-7 any information.

Esparza told ABC-7 he will be looking into the possibility the leak came from his own office.

Joe Moody was a prosecutor at the DA's office, though Esparza says he took a leave of absence during his campaign.

On ABC-7 Xtra last October, host Darren Hunt questioned Moody about his knowledge of the unfounded crash report and the leak.

"I did not do that research. my campaign did not do that research that was done," Moody said. "I think we're in a climate where modern campaigns this stuff is looked into all the time."

Sgt. Mears said the leak could be criminal misuse of official information.

"Look, it would be great to find out who the leak was because depending on who and how they leaked it, it might be a crime," Mears said. "I'll be honest with you. my knowledge of the case and how it happened and everything else -- I don't think that leak came from within our department. Obviously the guy who wrote the information request had some official knowledge of the case. You can tell by the way the request is written."

Esparza said the internal investigation shows why prosecutors' jobs could now be more difficult.

"We rely on police officers to relay the facts of an incident accurately. The community relies on that, so if that officer is relaying information that is not accurate, and is purposely doing so, I am interested in that," Esparza said. "I am going to look into that."

Margo said his concern lies with the elected officials.

"I'm equally concerned about elected officials using the police to get back at their opponents, as it seems to have come out with this," Margo said.

Margo said he will never know if the unfounded report affected his bid for re-election, which he lost in November.

Now that the truth is out he will have to trust that authorities will work to investigate the source of the leak.