Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, March 3, 2000
Herrera trial set unless plea deal OKed
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Mar. 3, 2000 - The trial of Pecos bail bondsman Jose T. "Joey"
Herrera Jr. on charges of fabricating evidence and money laundering is
scheduled to begin on Monday in Davidson County District Court in Nashville,
Tenn. unless Herrera agrees to a plea deal, according to records filed
with the Davidson County District Clerk's office.
Senior Assistant District Attorney John Zimmermann said two weeks ago
a trial date of March 6 had been set for Herrera, who also owns Herrera
Insurance in Pecos and is a former president of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
school board. He has spent the past 11½ months in the Metro Nashville
Davidson County Jail in Nashville, Tenn.
A status check hearing was scheduled for today before Davidson County
District Judge Cheryl Blackburn, with Herrera due back in court on Monday.
However, according to the district court records, prosecutors have offered
Herrera a deal, in which he would agree to plead guilty to separate counts
of fabricating evidence and one count of conspiracy to fabricate evidence.
If he accepts the deal, a sentencing hearing already has been set for
May 30 in Judge Blackburn's court, according to the district clerk's office.
Herrera's Monday court date coincides with that of another defendant,
Gilbert Weibe, who was involved in the alleged scheme to produce phony
Mexican death certificates for suspects who had been released on bond from
the Davidson County District Court.
Also indicted in connection with the scheme were two former employees
of Paul's Bonding Co. of Nashville, who allegedly worked with Herrera to
produce the death certificates, in order to persuade local court officials
to drop drug charges against three men whose releases they had obtained
Peggy Coleman, 53, former officer manager for Paul's Bonding, was granted
a delay in her scheduled Jan. 24 trial because of lung cancer and heart
problems that have developed since her arrest in December 1998, according
to the Nashville Tennesseean.
Former Paul's Bonding Co. employee James Mitchell (Wolf) Ferrell, 40,
also is set to stand trial with Coleman. According to records in the Davidson
County District Clerk's office, a status hearing on Coleman and Ferrell
has been scheduled for March 24.
Blackburn set bail on Herrera at $500,000 back on March 30, 1999, following
a hearing on the charges, for which Herrera was arrested in Pecos and extradited
Tennessee bail bondsmen were unable to post the large bail, Zimmerman
said following the March 30 hearing. He explained that Tennessee law requires
that bondsmen post cash or actual property to secure bail. One local bondsman
was prepared to post $250,000 or less, but not $500,000, he said.
Nashville Police Officer Jesse Burchwell, who interviewed Herrera after
his March 15, 1999 arrest in Pecos, testified during the bail hearing that
Herrera admitted sending three forged death certificates to Tennessee,
which resulted in the indictment.
Burchwell also testified that officers found a pad of blank death certificates
when they searched Herrera's house.
"The numbers on the blank certificates were in the same sequence as
those he sent up here," Zimmermann said.
According to Zimmermann, the Tennessee courts are faced with the problem
of three Hispanic drug dealers who fled to Mexico. One was free on $500,000
bail and the other two on $250,000 each, posted by Paul's Bonding of Nashville.
Herrera had arranged for bail in all three cases, telling a Paul's Bonding
employee, "when they don't show up, I will send you a death certificate,"
Zimmerman said that three of the four criminal court judges had the
phony death certificates presented in their courts. Blackburn was the only
one who did not, so she was assigned to hear the case.
If Herrera is convicted, he could be sentenced from 8-30 years on the
money laundering count, 3-15 years on each of the three fabricating evidence
counts and 2-12 years for conspiracy to fabricate evidence, Zimmerman said.
No word was available today on what sentencing guidelines would be used
if Herrera agrees to a plea bargain agreement.
The Herrera case has resulted in reform of bail bond regulations in
Nashville. The Tennesseean said the tougher new rules were drawn up by
Zimmermann and went into effect last November.
Crockett student claims dual science prizes
PECOS, Mar. 3, 2000 - A Crockett Middle School student picked up a couple
of first place awards recently during the school's annual science fair,
and will be hoping to repeat that trick later this month, during area competition
Ysidro Renteria, Jr., an eighth grader at Crockett, won first place
in both chemistry and physics for his displays `Steam Boat Power' and `The
Amazing Water Bubbles' according to science teacher Jim Workman. The projects
involved the use of both heat and electricity to produce their desired
"I think that's the first time ever someone has one both awards, at
least here," said Workman.
The science fair was held last week, and Workman said a total of 72
projects were entered. "Every student participate in the project, that
was something they were all required to do," he said. The judges were teachers
and Pecos High School students sent over by Workman's father, Jerry, from
his science classes.
Renteria, the son of Dia and Ysidro Renteria, Sr., will be part of a
group of about two-dozen students who will compete at the Region 18 science
fair, scheduled for March 23-24 at the University of Texas/Permian Basin.
Pineda gets national award for migrant worker efforts
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Mar. 3, 2000 - A Pecos resident received a national award recently
for her many years of service and dedication to her job and the community.
Dora T. Pineda, 60, who retired last July as outreach worker with the
Texas Workforce Commission, received the annual Unsung Hero award from
the U.S. Department of Labor in San Antonio on Monday for her work with
migrant farm families in Pecos and Reeves counties.
She recently lost her eyesight, but not her dreams. An inoperable brain
tumor is slowly stealing her vision _ since spring she's been legally blind
_ but she states she'll keep fighting for the rights of migrant farm families
in West Texas, just as she did while working with TWC for 30 years.
"I still have goals to meet," said Pineda. "I don't want to just forget
them, I want to contribute."
She was presented with the Unsung Hero Award by Larry Martinez, a national
officer with the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., during the
2000 M.A.F.O. National Farmworker Organization _ National Conference in
Francisco Cerda, a Monitor Advocate with the Texas Workforce Commissioner,
nominated her for the award.
Pineda worked where her clients worked, in the heat and dust of the
Texas farm community.
Like them, she spent her childhood summers chopping cotton in West Texas,
where temperatures often rise to 110 degrees.
"We had no toilet facilities," she said. "We had no rights. At 15, I
finally said, `no way.'"
She vowed to finish school and become a spokesperson for migrant families.
"I wanted to make them aware of their rights," Pineda said, who grew
up in the town of Pecos. "I felt the more I could learn, the more I could
serve my community."
Pineda has since helped thousands in Pecos and Reeves counties get medical
care and other support services, and has reported employer abuses.
Pineda was a Workforce Development Specialist IV, for the Texas Workforce
Commission of Pecos and July 30 was her last day at the office.
Pineda started working at the unemployment office on a part-time basis
as the front clerk, a position she held for five years. From 1981-99 she
did a lot of traveling and a lot of learning.
"I feel happy that I'll get to do other things, but I feel sad about
leaving because I want to continue helping people," said Pineda.
"These last few years I have been working with all migrant workers,"
said Pineda. "This is especially during the summer, when they come to work
at the onion sheds, cantaloupe fields and packing sheds."
Pineda helped the migrant workers, going as far as going to their work
site. "Even though I had other primary duties, I would still go out and
try to help them," she said. "I worked a lot with the Migrant Summer Farm
Workers Program and did all I could to provide them with jobs and plenty
Her sight already was fading last year when she uncovered numerous violations
of federal law _ including gasoline leaking dangerously on a farm truck
manifold and workers living in a pesticide-laden warehouse without water
or electricity. She reported other abuses, as well, despite anonymous threats
of violence against her.
Pineda soon will learn to use a cane the way she once used her eyes.
When she can get around better, she says, she can start helping migrant
workers again _ this time as a volunteer.
"They'll have to get used to my disability," said Pineda, "but I'm not
going to be shy."
"I have a great love for these people, I have been in their shoes,"
Her family consists of her husband, MacArthur and her children, Edward,
Nancy Ann and Steven.
Commissioners looking to save bike plant jobs
PECOS, Mar. 3, 2000 - Reeves County Commissioners are planning a special
meeting in an effort to save an local plant and over 20 jobs slated to
be eliminated later this year.
Commissioners will meet at 10:30 a.m., Monday, on the third floor of
the courthouse to discuss and take action on tax abatement resolution for
Balmorhea's Brunswick/Roadmaster Bicycle Plant Operation.
Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 3 Herman Tarin requested that the
item be placed on the agenda and that the county offer the Brunswick tax
abatement in effort to keep the facility operating and jobs secured.
Officials with the Illinois-based Brunswick Corp. announced in January
that they would be closing the bicycle plant in Balmorhea, along with its
manufacturing operations in Ojinaga, Mexico. The company said at the time
it was discontinuing all bicycle production in North American and would
outsource its purchases of bicycles from China in the future.
The plant is the shipping point for bicycles made at the Ojinaga factory
to dealers across the United States, and was a major supplier for Wal-Mart
stores nationwide. It was built only four years ago, and capacity inside
was doubled in 1998.
During the most recent Christmas holiday season, Brunswick employed
31 people, 27 of those from the Balmorhea area. Losses in Ojinaga from
the plant closing would be far more severe, with 700 people due to be put
out of work by this summer.
Lack of quorum cancels meeting of PHA board
PECOS, Mar. 3, 2000 - Pecos Housing Authority board members did not hold
their regular monthly meeting Thursday due to a lack of a quorom.
The only members present were executive director Nellie Gomez, chairman
Frank Perea, and commissioner Sandra Lira.
The board will try again to hold a called meeting on Tuesday at the
PHA office, 600 Meadowbrook Dr.
AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Thursday night: Winning numbers
drawn: 7-10-23-33-36. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner:
$82,317. Winning ticket sold in: Whitesboro. Matching four of five: 246.
AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Thursday by the Texas
Lottery, in order: 0-9-1 (zero, nine, one)
PECOS, Mar. 3, 2000 - High Thursday 74. Low this morning 48. Forecast for
tonight: Mostly clear. Low around 40. Light and variable wind. Saturday:
Partly cloudy. High in the lower 70s. Southeast wind 10-20 mph. Saturday
night: Mostly cloudy. Low in the 40s. Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High in the
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 2000 by Pecos Enterprise