Former Sullivan City police chief appears in court in evidence theft case

Miguel Martinez

EDINBURG — Approximately eight years after his arrest, Sullivan City’s former police chief, who is accused of theft and abuse of official capacity, appeared in court Monday morning for a motion to suppress.

Rather than hear argument, the presiding judge indicated he would look over the paperwork regarding the motion to come to a decision.

Miguel Martinez, 43, was charged with one count of theft greater than or equal to $500 but no less than $1,500 and two counts of abuse of official capacity.

According to court documents, on May 21, 2015, “Martinez intentionally and knowingly unlawfully appropriated more than four ounces but less than five pounds of marijuana … from the Sullivan City Police Department.”

He has pleaded not guilty.

A previous appellate ruling stated that Sgt. Daniel Duran testified that he observed Officer Angel De La Mora place “some green leafy substance into a bottle and he closed the cap on it.”

When asked why he didn’t say anything at the time, Duran stated that Martinez had dispatched him to a call.

“The following day, De La Mora confessed to Duran that he had taken the marijuana and put it in bottles of alcohol for his father for medicinal purposes, but Duran thought that De La Mora was joking, so he did not report it,” the ruling said.

Duran later became suspicious and reviewed surveillance footage from the evidence storage room which revealed De La Mora had taken marijuana that had been recovered as evidence.

De La Mora was also arrested and eventually entered a guilty plea on one count of theft and another of abuse of official capacity. He was sentenced to two years probation and surrendered his law enforcement license.

Texas Ranger Bobby Garcia, who Duran turned to with the alleged evidence of the crime, testified that Martinez saw De La Mora leave the department with the bottles. However, he agreed that Martinez wouldn’t benefit from De La Mora’s actions.

Garcia added that Duran, like his colleagues, had a duty to arrest De La Mora when he saw him taking the marijuana, but he didn’t file charges against him because “he was a witness who came forward with information.”

The city manager at the time, Judy Davila, stated she suspended both De La Mora for violating city evidence handling procedures and Duran for tampering with evidence.

“She did not believe that Martinez had violated city evidence handling procedures or any policy,” the document said.

Duran had also previously testified that there is no evidence Martinez took any marijuana or benefited from De La Mora’s taking of the drug.

According to the appellate ruling, a theft worth $500 or more but less than $1,500 is usually a Class A misdemeanor but since Martinez was a public servant, the offense is elevated.