August 3rd, 2017
Hernandez takes temporary leave of absence, with pay and benefits
By JOHN DANIEL GARCIA
PRESIDIO COUNTY – Embattled Presidio County Commissioner Lorenzo Hernandez won’t be stepping down from his elected county seat following his June 29 felony indictment and arrest in Midland on federal bribery, fraud, and deprivation of honest services charges.
According to a letter written by Hernandez’s attorney David M. Guinn, Jr. (dated July 28) written to Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara, Hernandez will keep his commissioner’s title for at least 60 days, opting instead to take a “temporary leave of absence.”
A letter from the judge asking for Hernandez’s resignation from the commissioners’ court was sent to Hernandez and his lawyer, the judge said. Guevara also confirmed that Hernandez would continue receiving full pay and benefits as long as he holds on to his title. Hernandez currently receives an annual salary of $18,848, with a monthly gross pay of $1,570, according to Presidio County Treasurer Frances Garcia. In benefits, the county pays $570 per month for health insurance, $94 in retirement benefits, and $6.72 for vision insurance, for a total of $671.10 per month.
The county could seek to remove Hernandez from office by filing a civil lawsuit in state district court, a matter discussed by commissioners when Hernandez first was arrested. Hernandez was arrested and charged alongside former City of Presidio Special Projects Coordinator and Presidio ISD School Board trustee Carlos Nieto following an FBI sting in which bureau agents created a fake document digitalization company and allegedly paid Hernandez and Nieto around $20,000 and $8,000, respectively, to push a contract through the county. Both men are currently free on $20,000 bonds, though Nieto is unable to return to Presidio as requested by the U.S. attorney’s office and ordered by U.S. Judge David Guadarrama of El Paso as a term of Nieto’s release.