By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
A San Benito Municipal Court judge is the subject of a police investigation into allegations that he gave preferential treatment to an attorney arrested Sunday night.
According to an arrest report filed by officer Manuel Alvarez of the San Benito Police Department, Municipal Judge Benjamin Yudesis allegedly instructed Alvarez to refrain from filing a criminal mischief charge against 38-year-old Monica Solis, who was already under arrest for harassment, because it was a class C misdemeanor that would eventually be dismissed and “waste the city’s time.”
It all started at about 7:15 p.m. Sunday, when police responded to a domestic dispute at a residence located on the 400 block of White Wing Street in San Benito. There, 38-year-old Juan Alvarado reported to police that he was allegedly sent “several unwanted text messages to his cell phone” from his wife, Solis, whom he is legally separated.
Alvarez stated in his report that Solis, an attorney with the law firm Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, repeatedly interrupted police when attempting to take a statement from Alvarado and, at one point, advanced toward her husband with a pot filled with kitchen knives.
“As Sgt. (Oscar) Leal and I were comparing the statements we got from both parties, we began to hear banging and shouting from the kitchen,” Alvarez stated in the police report narrative. “I entered and saw that the suspect had collected a large assortment of kitchen cutlery in a pot and was advancing toward the victim who was trying to unlock his bedroom door which he locked in an attempt to keep out the suspect. I intercepted her and held out my hands, she told me I could keep the cutlery and handed it to me.”
When informed by officers that she would be arrested for harassment, Alvarez said Solis allegedly “called out to her mother to call judges Ben and Sanez [sic].” It’s unclear if the officials Solis allegedly referenced were Yudesis and Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz.
“I asked her if she understood what was going to happen and she stated she was going to be arrested for harassment,” Alvarez continued in his narrative, adding that Solis had berated officers and identified herself as a lawyer. “She then asked me if I understood that she was going to get bonded out from jail and come right back to the home.”
Following Solis’ arrest, Alvarez reported that Yudesis arrived at the police station and requested the complaint. “He (Yudesis) instructed me to print out a complaint for harassment and he would P.R. bond her,” Alvarez stated. “I said the victim had just arrived and I just finished booking and had not even started the report, and he replied that was okay he would speak to her.”
In addition, Leal reportedly instructed Yudesis of Solis’ alleged intention to go back to the residence and of Alvarado’s request for a protective order.
“Sgt. Leal arrived and told him (Yudesis) of the suspect’s stated intention to go straight back to the home … despite the fact that there would be continued conflict,” Alvarez reported. “Sgt. Leal then advised him that the victim had asked for a protective order. Judge Yudesis told him that it did not fit the criteria for one. Sgt. Leal continued to speak to the judge as I hurried back to get the victim’s statement before the suspect was released. Sgt. Leal and Judge Yudesis arraigned her. The victim became very upset at the differential [sic] treatment of the suspect and asked me if this was normal.”
What’s more, Alvarez stated that the judge was allegedly dismissive of another possible charge against Solis.
“I made contact with judge (Yudesis) and told him I had elements for criminal mischief and he told me to never mind that,” Alvarez stated. “It was a class C and Sterling (attorney for city) would dismiss it later and waste the city’s time.”
Yudesis then released Solis on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond without arraigning four other inmates who were incarcerated that evening, according to Assistant City Manager Arturo Rodriguez.
Alvarado’s family members have complained about Yudesis’ handling of the situation, alleging that the judge not only gave Solis preferential treatment but reasoned that she was an attorney and therefore should not spend the night in jail.
“All this will be investigated now, and all this is an internal affairs investigation that will be conducted,” Rodriguez said when asked about the allegations against Yudesis. “Any wrongdoing discovered will be presented for appropriate action. I’m not here to give anyone favoritism, all people here will be treated equally and properly consistent with the law.”
Attempts to reach Solis for comment were unsuccessful as of presstime Tuesday; Yudesis chose to defer comment to Rodriguez.