By HEATHER CATHLEEN COX
A Cameron County Grand Jury on June 25 indicted 11 individuals for their roles in a civil service exam cheating scandal that took place in September 2013.
Indicted for the charge of misuse of official information were: Octavio Camacho Jr., Steven Gabriel Sosa, Armando Aguilar, Nina Ochoa, Erick Dominguez, Damian Ortiz, Mauricio Guardiola, and Alfonso Mendoza II, all from Brownsville; Adan Martinez and Ashley Nicole Hamilton, both from La Feria; and Ricardo Alvarado of San Benito.
According to the Cameron County District Attorney’s office, “All defendants received, shared and/or utilized the questions and answers to the civil service exam that is given to qualify employment with the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department.” This is a third degree felony in the State of Texas.
Officials were first made aware of potential cheating when a tip was received by an anonymous source. Allegedly, one test-taker used a mobile device to take unauthorized photographs in an official area of examination. The individual then reportedly leaked said photographs to at least some other test-takers.
Incriminating information to prove cheating had transpired was found on at least one of the accused’s cell phone. Several of the persons involved in this scandal pled guilty to the charges against them.
These 11 individuals were in the process of applying to work with the Cameron County Sheriff’s Office and were taking a civil service exam in an attempt at obtaining employment with the department. At least some of those indicted had previously been employed with the sheriff’s office, working under contracts which had expired to prior to September 2013.
The exact positions for which the indicted individuals were applying were not made available by representatives of the DA’s office. As of press time Friday, no sentencing has occurred for any of the accused.