Cashed Out

Texas' only casino hit by corruption charges

But Timoteo, 30, was defeated last spring in a rematch in the Democratic primary by former Representative Tracy King of Batesville. Among other things, Timoteo is accused of avoiding taxes on large sums routed through his father's consulting firm.

For the Kickapoo, who once feared to even publicly criticize Isidro and who blame him for corrupting their longtime leader Raul Garza, the indictments were sweet vindication. "It's been too many years. It's been a long time coming. I think justice is being served finally," said Juan Gonzalez Jr., one of those who led the uprising. "If there was any doubt as to what we were saying before, this is proof. We always thought things were not being run right, that funds were being misappropriated at the casino."

Few Kickapoo have expressed any sympathy for Raul Garza Sr., 63, who lost the loyalty of all but a few as he drew closer and closer to Isidro.

Isidro Garza Jr. faces a federal indictment for his management of the Kickapoo casino.
San Antonio Express-News
Isidro Garza Jr. faces a federal indictment for his management of the Kickapoo casino.

"I feel saddened that it had to come to this with Raul, to a man of his stature as a religious leader, but he knew what he was doing. He let these things happen against his own people. It's really sad, but that's the reality," Gonzalez said.

In several court appearances, a bewildered Raul Garza has professed his confusion and innocence. "I am a Kickapoo. I have never been to school. I don't know the laws. I don't understand English," he began telling U.S. Magistrate Dennis Green in December. The judge quickly told him to consult his lawyer. Because he is considered a flight risk by prosecutors, as of Monday Raul Garza remained in jail, the only defendant not released on bond.

Without giving names, the indictment mentions various local and state-level officials who allegedly received campaign contributions and political payments from a slush fund kept by Isidro. They are likely to be identified when the case goes to trial. One recipient of Isidro Garza's largess has already felt the heat.

In articles in the San Antonio Express-News, District Judge Amado Abascal of Eagle Pass was identified as being the state judge mentioned in the indictment who accepted $15,000 in casino cash. The money was reported by Abascal as being $1,000 donations from 15 people, all linked to the casino, but some listed as giving him the money either declined to confirm it came from them or said they knew nothing about it.

It is illegal in Texas for a candidate to accept more than $100 in cash from any person in each election cycle, and because of the small size of his judicial district, Abascal is forbidden to accept more than $1,000 from any individual in each election.

The judge has declined to comment.

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