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Former prison worker sentenced to probation
by Scott Reese Willey
Oct 19, 2009 | 3172 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A 44-year-old Beeville man accused of sneaking tobacco, alcohol and dietary supplements to prison inmates when he worked there as a laundry manager two years ago was sentenced Tuesday to four years probation.

District Court Judge Mike Welborn also ordered Juan Antonio Gutierrez to pay a $750 fine and $298 in attorney fees.

Gutierrez, who was 42 years old when he resigned as laundry manager at the McConnell prison, confessed he had given inmates prohibited items for money between October 2006 and June 15, 2007.

In a written confession, Gutierrez admitted he was approached by an inmate in October 2006 and asked to sneak in tobacco in exchange for $100.

Gutierrez, who started working for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in 2004, said he refused to go along with the inmate’s request at first, saying he feared losing his job or being sent to prison for violating a state law.

However, he confessed, the inmate continued to pressure him daily and he eventually agreed.

Gutierrez said he placed the loose tobacco in three plastic sandwich bags and after flattening them tied them around his ankles to sneak them past security.

He also stuffed some of the bags down his pants.

He said he also provided liquor and whisky to inmates by pouring it into soft drink bottles.

Gutierrez also confessed to providing dietary supplements and a watch to the inmates.

He said he figures he received between $3,000 and $4,000 for his illegal acts over the course of nine months.

Gutierrez said his wife and he refined the operation by vacuum-sealing the plastic bags to make them slimmer and more concealable. He said he spent about $400 of the illegal loot on Christmas presents one year.

Prison officials caught Gutierrez sneaking in the illegal items on June 15, 2007.

He resigned the same day and was indicted this year on one count of providing a prohibited substance in a correctional facility, a third degree felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Judge Welborn sentenced Gutierrez to four years deferred adjudication probation.

Under deferred adjudication probation, Gutierrez’s judgment will be deferred until later, if ever. If he successfully fulfills the terms of his community supervision, he will not be judged and thus not have a criminal record in regards to the offense. However, if he fails to abide by the terms of the probation, he could have his probation revoked and sent to prison for the maximum time allowed by law without a trial.

Also sentenced Tuesday:

• Joe Anthony Soliz, 24, of Beeville, sentenced to 20 years in prison on a charge of possession of a controlled substance, between 4 grams and 200 grams of cocaine, a first degree felony offense punishable by up to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Soliz pleaded guilty to the charge as part of plea bargain agreement arranged with the district attorney’s office. A sheriff’s deputy said officers executed a search warrant of the home in which Soliz lived and the illegal narcotics were discovered stuffed in the sleeve of a shirt hanging in the closet.

• Steve Reyna Cerda Jr., 28, of Corpus Christi, to three years in prison on a charge of aggravated assault by threat with a deadly weapon, a second degree felony offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

He is accused of twice trying to ram another vehicle on April 15, 2006, in which one passenger was younger than six years old. According to court records, Cerda told sheriff’s deputies he was attempting to stop the other vehicle so that he could talk to a passenger, who is his ex-girlfriend. Cerda told the officer his girlfriend was moving away to another town and taking his daughter, who was under six years old at the time.

His ex-girlfriend and daughter were passengers in the car at the time of the incident. The driver, the woman’s new boyfriend, told officers he had picked up the woman and his daughter and was leaving his home east of Beeville when Cerda drove up in a Dodge truck and tried to ram his car. The driver said he was forced to drive into a ditch to avoid a collision with Cerda’s pickup truck. Seconds later, at an intersection down the road, Cerda twice bumped the rear of the car. A sheriff’s deputy spotted the two speeding cars pull into a parking lot of a convenience store where the two men began fighting.

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