Earlier this week, The Monitor’s latest iteration “myrgv.com” posted a timeline of the scandal involving Edinburg Police Chief, Cesar Torres. As with most articles written by the journalists on myrgv.com, it took me all of about 3 minutes to suffer an aneurism. For the sake of clarity and to save the rest of the reading public from losing their minds attempting to make sense of this mess, here’s our version of this juicy, albeit very stupid, scandal.
*Note: All members of the Edinburg United Police Officers Association (EUPOA) mentioned in this timeline are currently, or were at some point, employees of the Edinburg Police Department (Edinburg PD).
Nov. 9, 2018, Then-Edinburg City Manager, Juan Guerra, demotes then-Edinburg Police Department (Edinburg PD) chief, David White for low public safety rankings from studies conducted by websites like wallethub.com.
Dec. 7, 2018, Assistant Edinburg PD chief, Peter De La Garza, is appointed interim chief following White’s demotion.
Dec. 11, 2018, Current Edinburg PD chief, Cesar Torres, receives a conditional offer of employment.
Dec. 12, 2018, Torres officially submits his application for the chief vacancy.
Dec. 20, 2018, Edinburg swears Torres in as its new police chief.
Jan. 9, 2019, The Monitor reports that the Texas Department of Public Safety demoted Torres in May 2018 from lieutenant to patrol sergeant after finding he “coerced a recruit applicant into signing a department recruiting form so that (Torres) could receive a pecuniary benefit.”
Jan. 21, 2019, Torres asks then-Edinburg United Police Officers Association (EUPOA) president Juan “Jay” Hernandez to amend the Meet and Confer Agreement to allow him to hire an assistant chief from outside of the department.
Feb. 19, 2019, EUPOA votes down Torres’ proposal to amend the Meet and Confer agreement to allow him to hire an assistant chief from outside the department although then-EUPOA president Hernandez supports Torres’ proposal.
Mar. 11, 2019, Hernandez is promoted by Torres from patrol to assistant chief. Hernandez subsequently steps down from his post as president of this union as Armando Celedon succeeds him as EUPOA’s new president.
May 10, 2019, EUPOA meets to discuss union finances and discovers unapproved spending by Hernandez, according to a letter that Celedon wrote Torres.
May 16, 2019, EUPOA votes to investigate Hernandez’s purchase of Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo) tickets for a concert held at Bert Ogden Arena with the union credit card.
May 20, 2019, Then-EUPOA president Celedon sends Torres another letter informing him of the vote and stating that Hernandez was not authorized to purchase the tickets with the union credit card.
Jul. 2, 2019, Edinburg PD Internal Affairs investigation into Hernandez closes with no disciplinary action.
Jul. 12, 2019, Celedon is placed on administrative leave without pay by Edinburg PD.
Jul. 24, 2019, Torres terminates Celedon’s employment from Edinburg PD.
Jul. 31, 2019, Edinburg PD arrest Celedon and charge him with official oppression and tampering with a government record following a separate incident involving a local traffic citation where Celedon instructed a citizen to forge their husband’s signature. Read more here.
Aug. 6, 2019, Torres reassigns officer Eric Salazar, EUPOA board secretary, from investigations to patrol. He is the subject of the future lawsuit.
Aug. 8, 2019, Torres reassigns officer Arnaldo Ysquierdo, EUPOA board trustee, from investigations to patrol. He is the subject of the future lawsuit.
Aug. 15, 2019, Salazar files a grievance with the EUPOA Grievance Committee, which is reviewed and approved by the committee the same day.
Aug. 16, 2019, Salazar’s grievance and the EUPOA Grievance Committee’s decision are sent to Edinburg PD.
Aug. 22, 2019, Ysquierdo files a grievance with the EUPOA Grievance Committee, which is reviewed and approved by the committee the same day.
Aug. 24, 2019, Ysquierdo’s grievance and the EUPOA Grievance Committee’s decision are sent to Edinburg PD.
Aug. 27, 2019, Hidalgo County grand jury no-bills Celedon.
Sept. 9, 2019, Torres fails to respond to both grievances.
Sept. 28, 2019, Torres places White, the former chief who was running for Edinburg City Council at the time, on administrative leave with pay on White’s last official day as an officer for campaigning at a retirement event held for him on behalf of Edinburg PD.
Oct. 18, 2019, Celadon files a lawsuit against the city of Edinburg, making a whistleblower claim for reporting Hernandez’ purchases of the Jennifer Lopez tickets and seeking his job back.
Nov. 5, 2019, White is elected to City Council.
Dec. 10, 2019, Torres investigates a complaint that a cadet has a close personal relationship with himself and with Hernandez. Torres determined the complaint was unsubstantiated.
Dec. (exact date unknown) Hernandez demoted from his position as assistant chief.
Jan. 6, 2020, An unidentified council member reports to the interim city manager, Richard Hinojosa, that Torres sought their “blessing” to demote Hernandez from assistant chief and back to patrol.
Jan. 6, 2020, Hinojosa receives a report that his predecessor, Juan Guerra, is under investigation regarding a domestic assault allegation involving another former city employee.
Jan. 10, 2020, Torres is placed on a five-day suspension for three incidents: investigating a claim against himself, seeking a council member’s blessing to demote an assistant chief, and for failing to report in a timely manner to the then-interim city manager, Hinojosa, regarding allegations of domestic abuse against his predecessor.
Jan. 13, 2020, The City of Edinburg settles the lawsuit brought by Celedon and he is subsequently rehired as a result.
Mar. 6, 2020, EUPOA sends a demand for arbitration on behalf of Ysquierdo and Salazar to the City of Edinburg.
Apr. 9, 2020, EUPOA files a lawsuit against the City of Edinburg in Hidalgo County.
May 28, 2020, The City of Edinburg removes the litigation from state to federal court.
Jun. 12, 2020, City Manager Ron Garza provides Torres with a written warning for two incidents. The first incident involved sending an email on March 18, 2020, falsely alerting police that DHR was treating a COVID-19 patient. The false information was then leaked to the public. The second involved allowing an Edinburg police officer to appear in a rap video in uniform using a patrol unit that was published on YouTube (side bar: if anyone has this rap video, please let us know).
Sept. 22, 2020, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez orders the city of Edinburg to arbitrate Ysquierdo and Salazar’s claims.
Sept. 24, 2020, Torres is informed by Edinburg Internal Affairs investigators that City Manager Garza and City
Attorney Omar Ochoa called Internal Affairs investigators and inquired about the complaint into recently re-hired officer Celedon potentially committing insurance fraud.
Sept. 26, 2020, Torres informed Garza that he wanted to meet with Garza to discuss the complaint of criminal misconduct against Celedon. Garza allegedly told Torres that they “need[ed] to leave th[at] alone,” and to not “worry about it.”
Oct. 2, 2020, Torres met with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the Edinburg Police Department, where then Torres reported the conspiracy to commit insurance fraud by Celedon to the FBI, allegedly against the orders of Garza.
Oct. 9, 2020, City Manager Garza provides Torres a second written warning for mismanaging the city’s “ice cream truck” effort to increase Census participation, which resulted in a violation of public trust.
Dec. 9-12, 18, 2020, the City of Edinburg arbitrates Salazar and Ysquierdo’s grievances with the EUPOA.
Jan. 8, 2021, City Manager Garza provides Torres with a written process improvement plan listing four deliverables including implementing standard procedures for new hires and procedures of the handling of internal affairs investigation referrals, specifically regarding complaints of Torres, himself.
Jan. 18, 2021, Torres responds, saying he would “present all of this” the following week.
Jan. 25 – Feb. 12, 2021, Garza says Torres fails to deliver on any of the requested deliverables.
Apr. 7, 2021, A neutral arbitrator rules Torres not only discriminated against Ysquierdo and Salazar for union activities but that Torres showed a pattern of discrimination against officers for union activity.
Apr. 8, 2021, City Manager Garza meets with Torres and tells the chief he needs to resign or he will be fired. Torres asks for some time to think about it.
Apr. 12, 2021, Torres meets with Garza to apparently provide his decision but, instead, hands a proposed settlement for his resignation and threatens a whistleblower lawsuit if his demands are not met. Garza then places Torres on administrative leave with pay.
Apr. 26, 2021, Garza sends Torres a proposed settlement for his resignation.
Apr. 27, 2021, Torres’ attorney rejects the settlement sends a demand for the city to accept Torres’ initial settlement proposal.
Apr. 29, 2021, Garza sends Torres a memo of initial determination for termination and sets a May 6 deadline at 3 p.m. for Torres to respond in writing or in person.
May 5, 2021, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez upholds the arbitrators ruling and dismisses the EUPOA lawsuit.
May 5, 2021, Torres files a lawsuit against the City of Edinburg, claiming he is being fired for reporting Celedon to the FBI over insurance fraud allegations.
May 6, 2021, State District Judge Bobby Flores grants a temporary restraining order in Torres’ favor, prohibiting the city from firing the chief for the time being.
May 13, 2021, Torres files a second lawsuit, naming the City of Edinburg, the former chief and current city council member, David White, and former interim city manager Richard Hinojosa as defendants.
May 17, 2021, Torres and the city of Edinburg are scheduled for a court hearing on the temporary restraining order.