Angelina County grand jury 'no-bills' Zavalla mayor

Angelina County grand jury 'no-bills' Zavalla mayor

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County grand jury "no-billed" the mayor of Zavalla Tuesday morning.

The no-bill came after Texas Rangers investigated allegations that Zavalla Mayor Carlos Guzman used city money to buy gifts for a city Christmas party on Dec. 16, 2016. The Texas Rangers started the investigation at the request of the Angelina County District Attorney's Office.

"I am happy," Guzman said. "I know they had to do what they had to do and follow through on the investigation. I just want to move forward and help the city move forward. We are starting to work on getting a clinic here in town. The old mayor, Kelly Dickerson, got the grant approved and now we are working on getting it up."

Angelina County District Attorney Joe Martin said he didn't think there was anything in regard to the case that warranted criminal charges.

"He admitted up front that, 'Hey I did this. I thought I could do it. I didn't know I couldn't do it,'" Martin said. "I don't think there was anything there that warranted criminal charges."

A no-bill by a grand jury means that the members of the grand jury felt there wasn't enough evidence in the case to warrant a jury trial.

Guzman said the City of Zavalla bought the old Huntington State Bank property, and the clinic will be going in at that location. The Zavalla mayor said that they will be working with a clinic in Groveton to manage it.

In a previous interview, Guzman said the allegations involve him using city money to buy gifts for a city Christmas party on Dec. 16. Guzman said he reimbursed the city $579 on Feb. 8, at the advice of City Attorney Jimmy Cassels.

"My wife and I did not benefit from it," Guzman said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "I don't know if I've done anything wrong. I've tried to do better for the city."

Guzman said City Councilwoman Pam Hooks reported the allegations.

Some city employees said his actions were not ill-intended.

"We were surprised and little upset because we didn't understand why," said Waunesa Herrington, the city secretary.

Guzman said the investigation started in January, and he spoke with Texas Ranger Travis Brazil.

City employee Aimee Cloutier confirmed the goal was to bring the community together.

"He wanted to bring happiness to the community. Make the community one again, so they are not divided," Cloutier said.

Guzman has served as mayor since May of 2016.

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