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Ex-wife not a fan. Sheriff’s race turns personal

Accusations all false, says Guerrero

Last week, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s race between incumbent “Eddie” Guerra and Francisco “Frank” Guerrero got down and personal when a flyer was mailed out to would-be voters with the headline: “A Criminal Can’t Be A Sheriff.” Next to the headline was a photo of Guerrero.

Guerrero said even though the flyer didn’t identify the sender, per election code, he knows Sheriff Guerra’s campaign was behind it, and he has proof of it. Guerra said that he isn’t focusing on anything negative in his campaign, but is responding to the two things people care the most about: number one, Hidalgo County has an honest sheriff; and two, the sheriff’s office is protecting them and their families.

The Sheriff’s Office took a hit in 2014 when then-Sheriff Lupe Treviño pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to five years in the federal pen. Other area law enforcement personnel went down with him, including approximately five sheriff’s deputies, one of whom ran the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Crimestoppers Unit; one of Treviño’s top commanders, Joe Padilla; at least three drug dealers; and a former female criminal investigator for the county DA’s office, Aida Palacios, who is related to the city’s politically powerful Palacios family.

The scandal, which usually went under the title “The Panama Unit” garnered local, state, and national news, culminating in a mention on the cover of “Rolling Stone” magazine in January 2015: “America’s Dirtiest Cops: Cash, Cocaine and Corruption on the Texas Border.” To say that the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department had a PR problem would be an understatement.

Eddie Guerra, former Precinct 4 constable, was first appointed interim sheriff by the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court in April 2014 after Treviño was forced to resign, and then elected to the position after that. Since then, he has said, he has tried to restore confidence in the department. On the campaign trail this season, which kicked off last year, his main nemesis, “Frank” Guerrero, has said that Guerra is diluting crime stats, the county’s crime rate is actually going up, not down, and it’s time for new leadership in the sheriff’s office. Guerra, on the other hand, has countered that Hidalgo County is now showing the lowest crime rate in over 25 years. He currently serves as chairman of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition.

Guerrero, originally from Nicaragua, who landed in Miami at the age of 4, began his law-enforcement career with the Miami-Dade PD at the age of 20 after serving for approximately two years in the U.S. Army. After moving to south Texas in the 1990s, he went to work with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department, first with uniform patrol, then with criminal investigations. From there, he opened a private security company in Edinburg, which eventually grew to include 350 armed and unarmed security officers, according to his campaign literature.

Guerrero’s Story

The anti-Guerrero flyer mailed out last week and posted on social media in anonymous fashion suggests that he is behind on child-support payments to the tune of approximately $67,000; was found guilty on four counts of contempt of court; has been accused of embezzling over $1 million from a Houston-based business partner; and has failed in the past to pay $53,000 in child support.

Guerrero’s ex-wife, Josanna Guerrero, went on the record this week, saying that everything in the flyer is true. She describes her ex-husband as a domestic abuser, a thief, and a violent man when he gets stressed out. She says she lives in fear today of his rage and threats of physical violence. In response, Guerrero says he never struck his wife, never engaged in any sort of domestic abuse while the two were married or after the divorce, and basically describes her as someone who can’t manage money and now wants to blame the financial downspin on him, while just the opposite is true.

Last week, Frank Guerrero did a Facebook Live spot, discounting the negative-campaign flyer, saying it showed desperation on the part of his opponent, but he wasn’t going to shame the mother of his children, even though she was part and parcel of the mudslinging being thrown his way.

This week, however, after hearing of what his ex-wife was saying about him, he seemed to have had enough of her accusations and went into detail about their marriage and former business partnership. In fact, after hearing that The Advance News Journal wanted to do a story about the allegations leveled against him, the first thing Guerrero said was, “Well, I’m assuming this is on the record, right?”


“Okay, good,” he said. Then Guerrero launched into why all of the allegations on the mailer are lies. He never embezzled money; he’s current on his child-support payments; and he’s lived a decent life since he first went into law enforcement.

“Am I running for the husband of the year? Obviously not. As far as domestic violence or anything like that is concerned, however, any crime whatsoever, I’ve never, thank the Lord, been arrested for anything, much less charged with embezzlement or domestic violence or any other crime. And I will tell you this: in order to run that federal prison over there (in New York state), I had to go through a strict background (check) and I had top secret clearance (from Homeland Security) to run that jail.”

The jail to which Guerrero refers is in New York state and is part of a civil lawsuit filed in Harris County in 2015 by his former business partner, George Barbosa. At the time, Guerrero and his wife were operating Valley Metro Security LLC. In his lawsuit, Barbosa is seeking more than $1 million in relief from Guerrero. The lawsuit stems from a business partnership the two men, along with Guerrero’s wife, entered into in 2007, in an effort to land a contract with the Department of Homeland Security to operate a processing center for illegal immigrants named the Batavia Service Processing Center (Batavia, New York). Valley Metro owned 51 percent of the partnership, while Barbosa owned 49 percent.

According to the lawsuit, Guerrero set up more than one account at the local bank where they did business without Barbosa’s knowledge. Then he allegedly funneled money into those accounts without his partner’s knowledge. Guerrero states that Barbosa’s claims are all fictitious spurred on by his ex-wife’s vindictive nature.

“We are running a positive campaign, and we continue to run a positive campaign,” said Guerrero. The allegations about embezzlement are just simply not true, he said. “There is no criminal investigation against me.” He (Sheriff Guerra) made it sound like there’s a criminal investigation; there is none. This (lawsuit) has been going on for four years now. I did submit twice an order for dismissal. The last time that we did, we’re waiting for a response because my partner didn’t show up. The amount that he’s claiming, it’s $13,000 out of a $132 million contract. That’s the only amount that’s claimed. This whole stuff about more money and all this, comes from my ex-wife,” said Guerrero.

Guerrero’s ex-wife, Josanna, laughs when told about the $13,000.

“From the court records I have seen, Mr. Barbosa is claiming that my ex-husband owes him close to $4 million, not $13,000.”

“She’s talked to everybody in Congress, everybody up to the White House, claiming that there’s money missing, and there is no money missing,” said Frank Guerrero. “We left contracts in good standing, we got positive reviews from our contracting officer, and we’re able to rebid on any contract. So there’s no criminal investigation against me where they said I’m being investigated. If you check the record, you’ll see that we’ve asked for dismissal because it’s just, it’s just, you know, it’s just pending. It’s just there. There’s no proof, because it just never happened.”

In the lawsuit filed in Harris County by Guerrero’s former business partner, George Barbosa, there is a claim that the candidate now running for sheriff inflated financial statements, that included fraudulent expenses. Guerrero denies the claim.

“Number two, going back to my wife’s claims that I owe back child support. I’ve been very open about the child support, because my wife has proven to be financially irresponsible. After the divorce, she had her obligations just like I did. She didn’t pay the house, she didn’t pay the building, she didn’t pay the car. Everything she asked for (in the divorce), she kept. Then she got our building repossessed, our vehicles repossessed. An RV repossessed, another vehicle repossessed, and the house is now under foreclosure. So she has proven to be literally irresponsible.”

Guerrero claims that is how he got behind in child-support payments.

According to state records filed by the Texas AG’s Office, Guerrero was in child-support arrears to the tune of $48,948.75 as of July 31, 2018. Then, he was found guilty of failing to follow through with court-ordered payments, which caused a judge to sentence him to 180 days in the county jail. That order was immediately suspended, as is typically the case in such matters, and Guerrero was instead placed on 120 months (10 years) of “community supervision” (probation). If he didn’t then follow through with the court-ordered child-support-payment plan, his probation would be revoked and he would be arrested and brought before the court for a revocation hearing. That court order was signed May 14, 2019 in Hidalgo County’s 93 rd state District Court.

“Before that happened,” said Guerrero, “my attorney said, ‘You know, Frank, you’re going to have to pay off these financial obligations (the home, the business, the vehicles, etc.), so let’s compel her to go back to court to address this because she’s not paying the money she’s responsible for paying.’ If I withheld the money in child-support payments, it would compel her to return to court, which I did. She basically shot my credit. The camper got repossessed; the Ram truck got repossessed.”

In the end, said Guerrero, he’s abided by the court’s order and is current with the child-support payment plan ordered by the court. He continued paying child support payments on his older children, which he wasn’t obligated to do, and he’ll pay child support payments on his oldest child approximately 16 months past his 17 th birthday.”

At the time, said Guerrero, he had two options. He could have paid the back child support in one lump sum or he could extend the child support payments.

“So I decided to extend it because I knew she had legal problems going forward. Why? She had hot checks trailing her, and I knew it was going to catch up with her. As we speak right now, and like I said, I’m not going to shame her for this, because you’re a reporter, and you have access to public records, but she has two felony warrants outstanding for her arrest.”

When told of her ex-husband’s accusations, Josanna Guerrero said she can’t help but laugh.

“He loves to say that, like I’m running around with two felony arrest warrants trailing me. You want to know the truth? He funneled approximately $400,000 out of our business account into his own accounts, and some of our payroll checks bounced. Rather than come to me for a re-issue, some of our employees took those bounced checks to the DA’s office. I had approximately $46,000 in hot checks facing the business. I paid those off, with no help from him, and now I’m down to only about $4,000. I have no outstanding warrants against me. I’m also still in possession of our home. Also, keep in mind, when my ex-husband talks about so-called business problems, the civil case filed against him filed by George Barbosa is entirely separate from the company we had together, Valley Metro, which I no longer have anything to do with.”

“All lies and deception,” said Frank Guerrero. “I never funneled money, and the hot checks she’s talking about took place when I was out of the picture. She was awarded the business in 2016. The hot checks were written between 2018 and 2019.”

Guerrero produces the warrants to back up his claim.

Another thing that has come up this election is Guerrero’s campaign finance report, which shows he has made personal loans to himself in excess of several hundred thousand dollars. Where did that money come from?

“Well, I’ve worked very hard,” he said. I’ve worked very hard for everything that I’ve got, and I can account for every dollar that I’ve made. And again, it goes to show you, I mean, I wasn’t thinking in a political framework (when the child-support issue came up). I could’ve just paid the $47,000, whatever it was in child support, and this wouldn’t be an issue today, but I’m very aware that my ex-wife is very irresponsible with money, and she’s proven it. She took a business that was grossing over $3.2 million in sales. Okay? And she literally nose dived it to the ground in less than a year and a half. In the divorce, she got 100 percent of the business, 100 percent of our primary residence, 100 percent of one of the vehicles, two of the vehicles that she wanted. She got 100 percent of an RV that we had, and the house.”

Frank Guerrero said he thinks it’s sad that some people have to resort to negative campaigning.

“I’ve never been interviewed, I never been contacted by any law enforcement agency. I’ve never been arrested. I’ve never been booked and charged with a crime. Never with any crime for that matter, specifically domestic violence. I do not condone it, I’ve never participated in it. Just like anybody else, I’ve had arguments with my exwife. Obviously we are divorced. Obviously it was a bad divorce, but I’ve never laid my hands on her.”

Which brings up another point. Someone is posting via anonymous fashion a photo of Guerrero’s ex-wife that allegedly shows facial bruising.

“We lived around other law enforcement officers for approximately 15 years. If any of them had seen her with any type of bruising or anything, somebody would have said something, okay. We live in a mother community, you know. There is no police report at any police department on file of me assaulting her. There’s no arrest. I’ve never in my life, thank God, been involved in any incident of family violence. I will tell you this, in order to run that federal prison over there (in New York), I had to go through a strict background (check), and I had to get top-secret clearance to run that jail.”

The Ex-Wife’s Tale

It’s relatively unusual for a candidate’s ex-wife to come out swinging during an election, but Josanna Guerrero, married to Frank Guerrero for 21 years (1995 to 2016), said she wants the public to know what sort of man her ex-husband is because Hidalgo County deserves better.

Despite her ex-husband denying he was physically violent with her during their marriage, Josanna Guerrero disputes that claim. She claims that she doesn’t know how the picture of her allegedly battered face landed in the public realm. According to her, the bruising happened during a physical altercation after which he left home and flew to Nicaragua. The next day, according to her, he called and asked how she was doing. She sent him the photo. How it got into someone else’s hands, she said she has no idea.

“He was violent even though I only filed one police report over the years; and that was with the Pharr PD back in about 2000 or 2001.”

According to Frank Guerrero, there is no such police report on file with the Pharr PD or any other law enforcement agency for that matter; and no such picture exists, unless one has been digitally altered.

“He has no business being in law enforcement,” said Josanna Guerrero. “Someone who’s in law enforcement respects law enforcement. Respects the laws, abides by them. Frank doesn’t do that. He didn’t pay his child support on time. He never once respected anything when it came to his family. I consider the fact that he’s now with our former secretary to be bad karma. If he gets elected, I think he’s going to steal from the county, and then he’s probably going to leave them hanging. What do you do with your contracts? I mean it’s what he did with the joint venture that we did with Batavia.

According to Josanna Guerrero, she has in her possession “hundreds of voice messages” on which her ex is swearing at her non-stop, dropping the F-bomb in rapid-fire fashion at her.

“He’d do that when he got mad if something didn’t go his way. They didn’t really stop until last year, and that was probably because his campaign stuff was getting underway.”

When told of his ex-wife’s allegations, Frank Guerrero, candidate for Hidalgo County Sheriff 2020, said it’s sad in a way to even be discussing this. “But she’s a liar. She lies about everything. My children are supporting me in this campaign, and that’s what matters to me – my kids. Unfortunately, divorce is all too common in our country; but my divorce did not stop me from fulfilling my responsibilities.”

On the other side of the ticket, incumbent Sheriff “Eddie” Guerra said, contrary to what his opponent has said, “The truth is, under my administration, crime is not on the rise, and it’s a slap in the face of every hardworking law enforcement official to say otherwise.”

In the lawsuit filed in Harris County by Guerrero’s former business partner, George Barbosa, there is a claim that the candidate now running for sheriff inflated financial statements, that included fraudulent expenses. Guerrero denies the claim.

Frank Guerrero said he thinks it’s sad that some people have to resort to negative campaigning.

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