Pharr police: Ex-PSJA employee stole $108K from district

Pharr police say a 60-year-old San Juan man stole about $108,000 from the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district over a three-year period through the use of 219 unauthorized purchase orders.

Authorities arrested Homero Villarreal on June 26 and charged him with theft, more than $30,000 but less than $150,000.

The case is at the center of dispute in a lawsuit filed by Pharr’s former police chief Jose A. Luengo, who alleges that he was demoted to lieutenant because he would not provide interim city manager Ed Wylie a copy of the investigative report into Villarreal.

Luengo alleges in the lawsuit that on May 8, a Pharr city employee instructed an officer investigating the misuse of public funds to turn over a report regarding an ongoing investigation.

“The Investigator refused the instruction because one of the persons included in the investigation was a close family member of the employee,” the lawsuit alleges.

When Luengo refused to provide the report to Wylie, he was suspended, according to previous reports and documents obtained through a public information act request.

The familial relationship Luengo alleges in the lawsuit regarding the report is not immediately clear.

According to police, Villarreal, who had worked in PSJA’s construction department, used purchase orders to obtain materials at Burton Auto Supply, Valley Outdoor Equipment and Hub Auto.

“Affiant will testify that a total of two hundred-nineteen (219) open purchase orders were obtained and used by the defendant for a total monety amount of one-hundred eight-thousand two-hundred fifty-nine dollars and eighty-nine cents ($108,259.80),” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Pharr police say that “all miscellaneous parts were never used at any location or for any work-order requests or repairs throughtout (sic) any department or building” within the PSJA school district.

The investigation into Villarreal began after an internal audit conducted by the school district revealed the discrepancy and loss of more than $100,000.

PSJA contacted the Pharr Police Department in February 2019 with the allegations.