Johnson City’s City Secretary Stacy Castillo was arrested on Sunday, August 25 for Theft of Property greater than $21,000 but less than $100,000, a second degree felony.
According to the Felony Complaint and Affidavit, Castillo took more than $34,000 from the City of Johnson City, beginning in May of this year. The alleged theft began with a memorandum for retroactive pay, which she forged with Mayor Ralph Moss’ signature, which totaled $13, 905.55. The remainder of the monies was taken by Castillo writing two checks to herself and forging City Administrator David Dockery’s signature.
Castillo is currently being held at the Blanco County Jail with a bail set at $100,000, and according to the arrest warrant, no personal bond is allowed.
At a special called meeting of the Johnson City City Council on Thursday, August 22, City Secretary Stacy Lynn Castillo was terminated after the discovery of misappropriation of funds. Following a brief executive session, Council returned, and after summarily moving to terminate and remove Castillo from all City accounts, Mayor Dawn Capra told those present that the City had discovered that Castillo had written two checks to herself, one in the amount of $15,000, and another for the amount of $6,000. Capra said that of the $21,000, $15,000 had been returned.
Castillo made an appearance at the meeting, and made a statement to Council. “To the City Council, City Staff, and residents of Johnson City, I apologize for the events that have transpired. I hope that my actions don’t detract from the good works of the City.” She was not accompanied by an attorney and left City Hall promptly after making her remarks. Citizen comments were not allowed at the special called meeting.
Castillo received a hand-delivered letter from the City on August 20 informing her of her impending termination; the letter cited the aforementioned unauthorized checks, “actions that indicate a gross neglect of duties, poor judgment, and disregard of the public trust”, and “the increasing lack of ability to show leadership, as an officer of the City.” It also says that on August 13, Castillo admitted to writing the checks.
Mayor Dawn Capra said, "We were all shocked when the discovery was made of the two checks Stacy wrote to herself. At first, it was difficult to comprehend that someone you had trusted as much as we all had Stacy could betray that trust in such a manner. However, the office staff (Betty, Tracy and David) along with Cathy Riedel, the city attorney, worked hard to ensure that every precaution was made to extricate Stacy from all city accounts and computer access. I am very proud of our staff and the manner in which they kept the city running smoothly, even with all the interruptions inherent in an investigation."
Over the course of the investigation, JCPD Chief Randy Holland found that Castillo had issued the memorandum to acquire and immediate and retroactive pay increase back to Feb. 6, 2013 on May 6, 2013, forged with the former Mayor’s name.
On July 11, Castillo reportedly issued a check, forged with Dockery’s name, for the amount of $6,000. On August 9, she allegedly wrote a second check to herself in the amount of $15,000; both checks were drawn on the Johnson City Bank, and were either cashed or deposited into Castillo’s personal account, according to the affidavit.
Both Dockery and Moss have said that their signatures were forgeries; checks were signed using a rubber signature stamp.
Castillo was hired with the City in August of 2012; prior to coming to the city, Castillo worked for Rio Grande Electric Co-Op as an administrative assistant in El Paso.
According to other news sources, Mayor Capra is quoted as saying that Castillo ‘ran into financial trouble’ and that she knew that she had made a huge mistake. She went on to say that it was out of character for Castillo, however, court records indicate that this is not the first time that Castillo has been charged with misappropriation of funds.
According to public records for El Paso County, Castillo, 43, was charged with four counts of forgery, class a misdemeanors, misappropriation of fiduciary/financial property equal to or greater than $200, but less than $10,000, a third degree felony, and theft of property equal to or greater than $1,500 but less than $20.000, a state felony in November of 1995.
The forgery charges and third degree felony were dismissed, but she was found guilty of the theft of property on November 30, 1995 by Judge Guadalupe Rivera in the 168th Judicial District Court. She received 10 years of community supervision time, and was ordered to complete 200 community service hours.
Capra said that the City was unaware of any prior charges or convictions.
The city council did approve creating new procedures for the handling of funds for the city, and Capra said that real signatures will be required moving forward.