Fremont courthouse employees accused of bribery

September 24, 2010 7:56:03 PM PDT
ABC7 has the exclusive story of Alameda County courthouse employees accused of taking bribes. Two people are under arrest accused of fixing tickets in exchange for cash.

Both of the people arrested worked at the Alameda County Superior Courthouse in Fremont. Investigators want to know whether they worked alone or more people are involved.

Juan Hernandez was arrested in late August after deputies say he got caught in a sting set up by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office in the Fremont courthouse.

An unidentified woman came up to the traffic window to pay a ticket and a source said it was a large fine. The source added that Hernandez offered to fix the ticket in return for cash and instead, she reported the bribe offer.

According to sources familiar with what happened next, sheriff's deputies gave the woman marked bills. One source told ABC7 they were $100 bills and our sources say the woman then gave the money to Hernandez as deputies watched.

"That person did in effect go forward and do that., had their record taken care of at basically a third less than what it would have cost," Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson said.

Early last week, Felix Chavez was arrested after court officials launched an investigation to see who else may have been involved.

"After we arrested Mr. Hernandez, they did an audit of their books and found some discrepancies and at that point, Mr. Chavez was also arrested," Sgt. Nelson said.

Alameda County court administrators declined our request for an interview. They issued a statement confirming the arrests but said, "according to judicial canons of ethics and other restrictions, we're unable to comment on pending cases and related personnel issues, but that appropriate administrative actions have been taken."

"The investigation on these two people is ongoing to see how far back it goes and how widespread it is," Sgt. Nelson said.

Hernandez is charged with accepting a bribe, embezzlements and grand theft. Chavez is charged with embezzlement and grand theft.

Sgt. Nelson said the big question and the focus of the investigation is how widespread these bribes were and if they were occurring in other courthouses.


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