SAN ANTONIO – Former Bexar County 2 District Clerk who sought out the Texas Rangers to expose Michelle Barrientes Vela’s “wrongdoings” testified Friday that she repeatedly carried a secret recording device in the summer of 2019 but did not tape the then-constable saying anything incriminating .
Clerk Susan Tristan’s second day of testimony came in the first week of the public corruption trial of the former constable who was charged.
Barrientes Vela, who left office at the end of 2019 and was indicted on a range of charges in early 2020, is currently on trial for falsifying evidence. She faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
Her trial is expected to last until next week.
Prosecutors accuse Barrientes Vela of hiding Rodriguez Park’s security payment logs and handing over a false set of records when she learned she was under criminal investigation in 2019.
The second day of Tristan’s testimony was repeatedly interrupted by objections from the defense and issues considered by the court outside the presence of the jury.
“I wanted someone to know what was going on inside this office,” testified Tristan, who eventually met with Texas Ranger Bradley Freeman and then with an unnamed FBI agent.
The FBI provided Tristan with a secret recording device, which she repeatedly wore to work before going to the FBI office and handing it over at the end of each day.
Despite repeatedly engaging Barrientes Vela in conversations at work about Rodriguez Park and using advice provided to her by law enforcement on how to do so, Tristan said she did not record the then constable saying anything incriminating.
Tristan testified Thursday that after Barrientes Vela was accused of extorting hundreds of dollars from a man in collateral during Easter 2019 at Rodriguez Park, the then-constable forced her to fill out new information in the park’s cash registers.
Barrientes Vela’s former civil attorney, Les Sachanowicz, testified Friday afternoon about the transfer of records from Rodriguez Park on behalf of his client.
He said Barrientes Vela hired him as a private individual in June 2019 after she received a subpoena from the grand jury.
Prosecutor Dawn McCraw at one point told the judge that she was willing to be called as a witness in relation to the chain of custody of the records after Sakhanovich turned them over.
If that happened, McCraw would be investigator, prosecutor and witness in the same case.
The trial of Barrientes Vela is due to resume on Monday morning.
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