Former interim housing exec, attorney to part ways

After previously claiming she was receiving ineffective counsel, Frances A. Salinas’ attorney filed a motion this week requesting to withdraw from the case.

Attorney Fabian Guerrero filed a motion requesting to be removed as the attorney of record for Salinas after she requested a hearing to determine whether she was receiving “adequate representation.”

“After the filing of her Request for Marsden Hearing, my attempts to reach Frances Salinas De Leon have been left unanswered,” Guerrero stated in the motion filed Tuesday. “On my end, I have also lost confidence in my client and this breakdown in communication is certain to lead to ‘ineffective assistance of counsel’ allegations in the future.”

He continued, “under the circumstances, I cannot properly represent the Defendant. In fact, I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to assist her any longer.”

Salinas is charged with two counts of wire fraud stemming from allegations that she agreed to assist Sylvia Garces Valdez, another defendant in the case, obtain a public relations contract with the city of La Joya.

In return for that assistance, Garces Valdez allegedly agreed to pay Salinas a portion of the salary she received through that contract.

The contract was then allegedly approved by former La Joya Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas, the father of Frances A. Salinas who is also a defendant in the case. He is also charged with wire fraud.

Last week, Frances A. Salinas filed the letter motion to request a “Marsden Hearing” in order to replace Guerrero as her attorney.

“I am being served with ineffective counsel who has failed to meet with me to discuss my well organized defense (we have met only twice since my arrest in December 2019), he has not challenged the prosecutions physical evidence or investigated the prosecutions witnesses,” Salinas stated in the letter motion. “I have text messages and emails to prove my statements and am hereby respectfully requesting new and adequate counsel.”

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane, who is presiding over the case, has not yet ruled on either request.

The case is currently scheduled for a final pre-trial hearing on July 31 and for jury selection on Aug. 4 but those dates will likely be pushed back further, especially if a change in counsel is granted.