Controversial former Bexar County constable indicted on felony charges

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Former constable Michelle Barrientes Vela, left, was indicted on Thursday.

Michelle Barrientes Vela, the controversial former Bexar County Precinct 2 constable, was indicted Thursday on multiple criminal charges, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

The Bexar County District Attorney’s Office announced that the 46-year-old faces third-degree felony charges, including one count of aggravated perjury and two counts of tampering with or fabricating evidence. She was also charged with three counts of official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor. 

The newspaper reported that Vela’s subordinate, former Precinct 2 Captain Marc Duane Garcia, was charged with one count of aggravated perjury and three counts of official oppression.

Both turned themselves in at the Bexar County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon and Vela’s bond was set at $25,000. She posted it and was released, later telling reporters that county officials arranged the charges against her to ensure Sheriff Javier Salazar would win re-election, the Express-News reported. 

Vela had to leave her post as constable after previously announcing her intention to run for sheriff.

“I’m his biggest threat of all the candidates,” she said Thursday. 

The FBI and Texas Rangers announced last year they were investigating Vela for possible criminal activity. Vela made the announcement of her sheriff candidacy as those agencies searched her home and office on Sept. 23, 2019. 

The Express-News pointed out that Vela has been embroiled in controversy since taking office in 2017. This includes being accused of shaking down a family for money on Easter Sunday 2019 when its members refused to vacate a picnic site at Rodriguez Park. The newspaper reported that the family paid Vela and a deputy constable $50 an hour for security, a total of $300, before they ran out of money.

Vela also tried to eject Salazar from the annual Cowboy Breakfast, as part of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, in January after he entered through a VIP entrance.  

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