Last month, a grand jury ruled indictments for Hidalgo Chief of Staff Alex Tryantaphilis, Wallis Nader’s director of policy and Aaron Dunn’s former aide on charges of misappropriation of official information and falsification of records related to $ 11 million Contract for the COVID-19 vaccine.
At the indictment hearing on April 12, visiting judge Vanessa Velazquez approved a $ 3,500 bail for each defendant and barred them from discussing the case with each other.
Velázquez also allegedly barred defendants from engaging in any contract procurement activities, but there was no court reporter on hand to decipher the trial, and the terms of the release were not documented in court records, leading to a dispute between prosecutors and lawyers over enrollment terms.
According to a petition filed by Harris County Assistant District Attorney Michael Levine on April 13, the day after the charges, Triantophilis represented Hidalgo at a meeting on the use of the US Federal Rescue Plan (ARPA) and voted in favor of approving the description. childcare agreement.
Last Friday, at a hearing on the terms of enrollment, Triantophilis lawyer Marla Poirot argued that prosecutors had distorted the bail conditions set by Velázquez, and the ARPA Steering Committee had not violated bond terms because it was not a valid committee to request proposals.
In March, Texas Rangers executed search warrants in district administrative offices and confiscated phones and computers belonging to Hidalgo employees. A few days later, the county transferred Danna to a higher-paying position in Harris County’s Flood Control District, while Nader and Tryantaphilis remained to work in the Hidalgo administration.
In court last week, attorney Danna argued that his new position requires him to also work with county contracts.
The criminal charges against the three cover a contract signed last summer with Elevate Strategies, an analytical firm with one woman owned by Felicity Pereira. Commissioner Jack Cagle (R-Pct. 4) questioned the award last August after it was reported that Pereira was a former deputy campaign manager for Commissioner Adrian Garcia (D-Pct. 2) and worked for the Hillary Clinton and Democratic presidential campaign. National Party. Committee.
After revealing that Hidalgo employees were trying to change suppliers ’requirements and proceeded to disqualify the University of Texas Health Science Center, Hidalgo agreed to terminate the contract, saying it had become too politicized.
Despite the announcement of the cancellation in September, the county paid Pereyra $ 1.4 million under contract the same month in an expedited process that raised additional questions.
Search warrant sworn testimony Filed by Texas Rangers, it is claimed that Dan, Nader and Tryanthophyllis contacted Hidalgo to find out about the scale of the project and other issues. It is also alleged that Triontophilis instructed his colleagues to “close the doors of UT” after the university scored higher than Elevate Strategies in the process of selecting suppliers.
Hidalgo and her lawyers insist that she and her staff did not violate the law regarding the Elevate Strategies contract. Hidalgo rejected the connection included in the testimony as “private” and “taken out of context”.
This week Hidalgo challenged the investigation as Fr. campaign season efforts and political revenge by fellow Democrat and District Attorney Kim Ogo.
“It is no accident that this is happening in the midst of my election campaign,” Hidalgo said. “This in itself should clearly show that it is politically motivated.”
Hidalgo also claimed that Triantafilis’ lawyer found out about the district prosecutor’s office’s request for bail only through a media representative.
“If there is anyone who thinks they will scare me away or who think they will dissuade me, they have underestimated me,” Hidalgo added.
Hidalgo has beaten five Democratic nominees in 2022 and will face Alexandra del Moral Miller or Vidal Martinez, depending on the results of the Republican primaries second round of elections later this month.
Initially a random county trial postponed the cases to 351street The district court is headed by Judge Natalia Cornelia, who was on leave at the time of the charges. But discoveries Cornelia has close ties with Hidalgo, Nader and Pereira prompted her to apply for recusal, and now the cases have been transferred to 174th Hazel Jones District Court.
Jones has scheduled a status hearing on the case for June 16, 2022.