ernesto gonzales attorney

Ernesto Gonzales, Missing Harlingen Attorney, Said Family Made Him Fear For His Life


The case of Ernesto Gonazles, an attorney with a practice in Harlingen who has been missing since July 18th, just got an almost cliched twist as it is currently being reported that he filed for a protective order against his family members just five days before his disappearance.

Ed Asher of The Valley Morning Star reports that Gonzales filed a protective order Thursday, July 13th against five of his family members in Cameron County’s 107th District Court. The hearing on his protective order was scheduled for today at 9:00 AM, which is what tipped reporters to this story.

The five members of the family in Cameron County case no. 2017-DCL-04500 are listed as Gloria E. Gonzalez, Jose M. Gonzalez, Ruby Ramirez, Fransisca Nicole Villafana, and Valerie Gonzales. The affidavit recorded by Gonazles paints a picture of a man who clearly feared for his life and had a particularly tumultuous relationship with his family close shortly before he went missing.

From the article:

He stated in court papers that he did not feel safe, alleging he had been threatened by two male extended family members. The explanation he states in court papers involves the care of his mother and complaints he filed with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Gonzales stated in his affidavit that he had a confrontation with some family members on June 21, the day he learned his mother had suffered two “mini strokes.” He said he called a doctor who advised him to call EMS and have his mother taken to the hospital. “My siblings kept yelling at me that our mother was not going to be taken to the hospital,” he said in the affidavit. “The EMS arrived at my mother’s residence, went into my mother’s house and came back out to let me know she did not want to be transported to the hospital,” the affidavit says. Gonzales said he believed his mother was “unduly influenced” by some family members. “Soon after that my sister, Gloria E. Gonzalez, started to swing at me with her closed fists, and I began to tell her to get back and get out of my face, which she would not do,” the affidavit says.

The affidavit follows up with another incident after his mother’s subsequent passing, this time during Gonzales’ mother’s funeral:

He states his older brother advised him not to enter the lounge at the funeral home because two male extended family members “had threaten (sic) to kick the living daylights out of me.” “But my brother … prevented them from assaulting me,” he states.

According to Gonzales, the 2nd incident most likely stemmed from the complaints he filed with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (Adult Protective Service) and Medicaid fraud against his own family.

Common Medicaid fraud involving the elderly is typically seen in the form of payments for services never rendered, such as in-home care workers who are hired but never check in with their beneficiaries. CBS News had a story highlighting some of these practices:

But worse than fraud, said David Ceron, a special agent with the Inspector General’s Office, is patient abuse and neglect. “We found various instances of abuse where individuals were supposed to be getting one-on-one care with personal care attendants, and the attendant didn’t stop by for weeks on end,” Ceron said. “Cases where attendants went on cruises in the Caribbean and the beneficiary was left alone in their home.”

Obviously, all of this is circumstantial and not any one of the five family members listed on the protective order have had criminal charges brought against them since this is still, according to Cameron County law enforcement, a missing persons case. For all we know, Gonzales may just be hiding from his own family, however, there is also a very real possibility that he may not be safe or even alive.

Stay tuned for updates.

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