Elsa city manager indicted on new charges of records misuse

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Elsa City Manager Juan Jose Ybarra was arraigned Wednesday on felony charges of misuse of official information and abuse of official capacity, the McAllen Monitor reported.

The charges are in connection with allegations that Ybarra attempted to intimidate his political rival during the Edcouch-Elsa school board election in November, the newspaper reported.

Ybarra pleaded not guilty at the arraignment. He was released from county jail after posting $3,000 bond.

The new charges are in addition to others brought against Ybarra in April. All of them relate to him allegedly using his office to illegally obtain information, share it, and misuse it.

In 2018, Esiquiel Avila ran for Place 1 on the school board against Ybarra, who had served in the post since 2005. Avila alleges that on the day he filed to run, Ybarra contacted Elsa Police Chief Primitivo Rodriguez to request Avila’s 2014 arrest record when he was charged with drug possession. At the time, Avila worked as the risk manager for the school district.

Rodriguez gave those records to Ybarra the same day, court records show.

That night, Avila’s wife received text messages with attached photos of his arrest report from 2014. Those messages came from the phone of another school board member’s wife, who was attending an election filing-day party at Ybarra’s house, according to court records.

The woman who sent the texts, a friend of Avila’s wife, said that Ybarra told people at the party he would make the records public. Investigators later downloaded the photos from the woman’s phone, The Monitor reported.

Avila alleges that Ybarra used the records to try to intimidate him into withdrawing from the race. Avila stayed in the race, but Ybarra won his re-election bid by a 2-to-1 margin.

In April, Ybarra was charged with misusing official information for sharing the records with the board member’s wife. The grand jury this time added a second count of misuse of official information plus the charge of abuse of official capacity for using his position as city manager to illegally obtain the records. 

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