Temple Mayor pro Tem Judy Morales Arrested
Temple Mayor pro Tem Judy Morales was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a misdemeanor charge of destruction, removal or alteration of public information.
According to a press release issued by Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols, Morales could be fined up to $4,000 and face up to three months in jail if convicted. She turned herself in at Bell County Jail around 2:30 pm, and was released after posting $1,500 bond.
Morales is accused of destroying emails and documents concerning her alleged illegal use of county resources to aid in her 2011 campaign for the office of Temple City Council Member District 2, then later requesting that emails and documents linking her to the activity be destroyed. According to the press release, the County cannot pursue charges concerning the use of county equipment for campaign purposes because the allegations did not come to light until after the two-year statute of limitations had expired. However, a special prosecutor reviewing the Bell County Sheriff’s Office investigation concluded that the misdemeanor charges were appropriate given the evidence.
The investigation of Morales began after Temple HELP Center employee Mari Paul, who worked under Morales when she was the Center’s director, reported to county human resources director Steve Cook that she had used county resources to perform tasks related to Morales’ 2011 campaign at her superior’s request. Paul also recorded a November, 2013 phone call in which Morales can be heard instructing Paul to destroy files on a county computer.
Morales and five other members of the Temple City Council are the subject of a recall petition being circulated by Paul. The petition cites Section 4.9 of Temple’s City Charter which prohibits public officials from receiving taxpayer funds as compensation for holding office.