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Former Bexar County constable convicted on felony tampering charges for 2019 Easter incident

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Texas Public Radio
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Bexar County Justice Center

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales says the conviction of a former constable and sheriff candidate for felony tampering of records shows anyone who breaks the law will be held accountable.

A San Antonio state district court jury on Thursday found former Precinct 2 Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela guilty on two felony counts of tampering.

Vela’s conviction is related to an alleged shakedown of a family at Rodriguez Park for $300 in security fees during Easter weekend in 2019, and ensuing coverup by her office. The FBI and Texas Rangers raided her office as part of the investigation.

The jury deliberated for four hours before reaching its verdict. Vela faces a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in prison, but is also eligible for probation.

“I want to thank the jury for their service over these last two weeks. They stayed focused on this complex case and found the former constable guilty on two counts of tampering with evidence. Their verdicts show that anyone who breaks the law will be held accountable," the district attorney said in a statement shortly after the verdict.

He also thanked others associated with the case.

"I also want to thank our team who has worked tirelessly on this case for more than three years. Our witnesses, from those who worked with the former constable and Texas Ranger Brad Freeman, also deserve credit for standing with the facts and the truth from the very beginning. Because this case is still pending sentencing, we can make no further comment.”

Vela will be sentenced by Judge Velia Meza at a later date. Until then, she'll remain free.

She still faces three counts of official oppression in a separate case. No trial date has been set.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian
Steve joined the Texas Public Radio news team in 2009, and serves as TPR's Assistant News Director and afternoon anchor. You can hear him Monday-Friday from 3-7pm on KSTX 89.1 FM. Steve is a veteran of radio news in South Texas, having worked for commercial stations in the San Antonio area since the late 1980s.