Sierra Martin | Managing Editor
HAYS COUNTY—Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra’s former Chief of Staff, Alex Villalobos resigned on March 2 following allegations of poor job performance, lack of responsibility, poor communication and illegal behavior.
Following the 2018 General Election, Villalobos was hired as Judge Becerra’s Chief of Staff. The commissioners later changed his position so that he worked for the entire court and upheld his position as a City of Kyle council member. During the 2020 election, Villalobos ran for Hays County Sheriff but lost to incumbent Gary Cutler.
Currently, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) the Department of Justice (DOJ), and Texas Rangers are investigating Hays County Judge Becerra and Hays County Chief of Staff Villalobos for ethical questions regarding COVID-19 Testing kits.
A letter from the Texas Attorney General’s office dated April 10 addresses that Becerra may have committed offenses such as abuse of official capacity, official oppression, misuse of official information, theft, misapplication of fiduciary property, tampering with a government record, and election code laws.
There are reports of Villalobos having close communication with Paul Gullo, an individual who was arrested in April in the City of Kyle after offering free COVID-19 antibody testing kits to employees of Hampton Inn in exchange for a free hotel room. According to the search warrant affidavit, Gullo told Kyle PD that he had dinner with Villalobos the night before and had received authorization for his work. Villalobos stated he had no knowledge of the alleged program or what the suspect was doing.
Walt Smith, Hays County Commissioner, Prec. 4 wrote a letter obtained through open records requests to Sheri Miller, Hays County Human Resources on March 2. According to the letter, Villalobos repeatedly conducted non-county-related activities while being compensated by the county and was instructed by the court to produce written timesheets to clarify when he conducted specific activities.
According to Smith, one of the instances of misusing his time while being compensated by county tax dollars includes Villalobos videotaping an advertisement for a political campaign during business hours in the courthouse.
In the letter, Smith explains how Villalobos refused to turn in any type of timekeeping for over four months while still getting paid by the county. When Smith requested the timesheets from the Auditor’s office in January for reimbursement for CARES Act funding, he was told timekeeping for employees was incomplete.
“I then further researched and found that of the over 1100 employees in the county, exactly 1 had not turned in their timesheets for the period from September 30, 2020, to January 12, 2021,” said Smith. “That lone employee was Mr. Villalobos.”
According to the letter, Villalobos began submitting electronic timesheets in the days prior to his Feb. 2021 evaluation. By reviewing the documents, they were determined to be falsified due to several dates offering conflicting accounts of work completed by Villalobos.
Smith wrote that the most obvious claim was of Villalobos working a full 8-hour day between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on election day, Nov. 3, 2020.
“Mr.Villalobos claimed on his written timesheet that on that date he spent three hours on county administration, but more disturbing, is his claim that that day he spent two hours on hurricane preparedness, an hour picking up personal protection equipment (PPE), and two hours preparing a State of Texas Assistance Request (STAR) for nursing staff before going off duty at 6 p.m,” said Smith. “Each of these activities would have been valid if they had occurred. Unfortunately, hundreds of our county citizens witnessed Mr. Villalobos actively campaigning for office and at polling locations on multiple days at the exact same times which he claims to have been conducting these actions on behalf of the county.”
Additionally, a portion of Villalobos’s salary is used to justify the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Management Performance Grant for the county. The letter states that the County Auditor’s Office acknowledged Villalobos did not turn in or track the time needed to justify the grant for over ten months, which may jeopardize the continuation of the federal grant. Smith says that if audited, the hours being presented as credit for the funding would stand in direct conflict with the timesheets submitted to the county.
Before taking the position as Becerra’s Chief of Staff, Villalobos was the Texas State police lieutenant under former Texas State Police Chief Jose Bañales. Bañales resigned from his position in May 2018 following allegations of falsifying government documents and the controversial arrest of four students protesting for the removal of former TXST student body president.
In March 2019, the Hays County Commissioners Court appointed Villalobos as a reserve deputy constable, who was assigned to the Hays County Judge’s Office as a protection detail.
During the appointment, then-Constable Ray Helm noted that Villalobos is listed on the “Brady List,” which is a composited list of law enforcement officers who have been found to have been untruthful or to have violated codes of conduct.
The list comes from the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady V. Maryland, which established the Brady Doctrine, a pretrial discovery rule that requires the prosecution to turn over all exculpatory evidence to the defendant in a criminal case.
According to Villalobos’s recent evaluation, Villalobos initially made public comments during his appointment that he was on the Brady List because he had used a public database while in uniform. Through public information requests to Texas State University, County Commissioners found that during the trial of Villalobos’s brother on Federal racketeering charges he used law enforcement databases to investigate individuals attached to the trial. When presented with the evidence, Villalobos then recanted and admitted to his actions.
“This information would have been vital to the members of the Court in determining the viability of Mr. Villalobos as a reserve deputy constable and I believe would have directly impacted the action taken by the Court,” said Smith. “Moreover, this action began the establishment of what I believe is a pattern of either purposeful omission or direct untruths meant to mislead the decisions of his supervisors, the Court, which equates to direct insubordination.”
In 2019 the county’s Emergency Services Director (ESD) resigned and Villalobos assisted with the hiring process of the new ESD. Villalobos then rewrote the job description and created a scoring matrix to evaluate necessary qualifications and select the best candidate without bias.
According to the letter by Smith, prior to creating the above hiring process, Villalobos received a resume from a possible candidate and drafted the scoring matrix to reflect the candidate’s resume and qualifications. Concurrently, Villalobos requested the resume from the Hays County Human Resources Department of the Acting ESD Mr. Justin Mcinnis.
On Feb. 4, 2020, Hays County Commissioner Prec. 3, Lon Shell, wrote a review of Villalobos to the Hays County Human Resources Director. Included in the review were concerns about how Villalobos handled the hiring process of the ESD.
“Many of the certifications and experiences listed on the potential candidate’s resume appeared word for word on the job description created by Mr. Villalobos and his scoring matrix,” said Shell. “This, I believe, was a manipulation by Mr. Villalobos to create a favorable process for a specific prospective candidate.”
“In reviewing emails, it appears obvious that Mr. Villalobos did receive the resume prior to producing the edited job description and the scoring matrix and used it to manipulate the process in favor of the candidate and in opposition to another, then lied to the Court when these actions were uncovered,” said Smith.
Also included in Smith’s letter, Villalobos was untruthful with his involvement in a press conference in March 2020 discussing the use of several private companies collaborating with the county to procure 50,000 COVID tests. Villalobos repeatedly denied prior knowledge of the arrangements with the companies or the press conference itself. After County Commissioner’s reviewed Villalobos’s emails, they found that he was not only aware of the companies and the press conference but had edited drafts of the press release and edited proposed contracts with the companies involved.
On March 2 County Commissioners completed a job evaluation of Villalobos for the 2020 calendar year where Villalobos received 40 out of the necessary 64 points to procure a raise. Written in the comments of the evaluation, commissioners listed lack of truthfulness, misleading the court, lack of responsibility and misunderstanding of his position with the court.
One of the comments on the evaluation stated that his timekeeping issues could be deemed “criminal” and the county is at risk of losing the Emergency Management Performance grant.
“During the evaluation, it became apparent that Mr. Villalobos had either lied or mislead the Court on a number of occasions when presented with these facts, he produced documents which were proven to be false immediately and asked to resign,” a commissioner wrote. “He committed to do so at that time then waited three weeks to fulfill the commitment he made to the Court. I don’t know if a relationship could ever be repaired given Mr. Villalobos’ willingness to act in such a manner.”
According to Hays Free Press, Villalobos said he has been recruited to another job, where he can continue to utilize his skillset while receiving a higher wage. He did not disclose any information about his new work.
The status of the investigation into Becerra and Villalobos is ongoing, and more information will be published as it becomes available.
Corridor News made several attempts to contact Villalobos but did not receive a response.
Attorney General letter announcing an investigation into Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra and former Chief of Staff Alex VillalobosAG investigation Becerra letter
County Commissioner Prec. 4 Evaluation letter to Sheri Miller, Hays County Human ResourcesVillalobos_2021_Evaluation Commissioner Smith Letter
Villalobos time sheet for Election day, Nov. 3, 2021Villalobos_November 3 2021 Election Day Time Sheet
Villalobos March 2 job evaluationVillalobos_2021_Evaluation Part 1
Kyle Police Department April 3 Arrest Affidavit for Paul GulloPaul Gullo Arrest Hays County History April 3 2020 Redacted_Redacted
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