KGNS On Your Side: Suspension letters expose reasoning behind Laredo PD officer “indefinite suspensions”

Updated: Apr. 30, 2023 at 10:00 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - In Laredo, family ties and friendships can connect you to things like services and jobs, and in some cases even land you in some hot water.

Last week, three Laredo Police Officers were indefinitely suspended from the department due to their alleged illegal actions in the November 2022 elections.

In suspension letters, obtained by KGNS, Acting Laredo Police Chief Steve Landin detailed each officer’s actions during the election and his reasoning for letting them go.

The suspension came after the civil lawsuit involving the City Council District 2 race between Ricardo “Richie” Rangel and current Council Member Daisy Campos-Rodriguez.

In each of the eight page letters, Landin breaks down visiting Judge Susan Reed’s ruling in the civil case, and why Officer Juan Guadalupe Villa, Officer Bryan Vicharelli and Sergeant Vicente Rodriguez, Jr. were found to have voted illegally.

In reviewing the suspension documents, it was noticeable that each of the officers involved had some sort of relationship to Campos-Rodriguez and her husband, former District 2 Council Member Vidal Rodriguez.

According to the letters, Villa is the ex-brother-in-law of Campos-Rodriguez, as he was married to Campos’ sister.

Additionally, Villa admitted to being the cousin of Rodriguez, Jr., who was once his patrol supervisor. Villa also had ties to Officer Raul Rios, who was among the group of officers accused of voting illegally; however, Rios decided to retire before receiving suspension letters. Rios is also Villa’s ex-uncle.

Vicharelli got involved in Campos-Rodriguez’s campaign because of his connection to Vidal Rodriguez, who is in sports activities with Vicharelli, according to the suspension documents.

The documents also mentioned that Vicharelli had also admitted to being friends with Campos-Rodriguez.

Lastly, it was confirmed to KGNS that Rodriguez, Jr. is the brother-in-law of Campos-Rodriguez, as he’s the brother of Vidal.

All three officers said they did not intentionally vote illegally and didn’t update the address on their voter registration card due to ignorance of the election process.

However, Landin repeatedly pointed out that each officer had previously updated their registration card with their current home addresses on different occasions throughout the years.

Additionally, each officer blamed The Webb County elections officials for not challenging them when they noticed mismatched addresses.

One of the more glaring incidents was with Rodriguez, Jr. who updated his voter registration card right after voting in the District 2 race. His current residence is listed as being in District 5.

According to the letters, Landin gave Villa, Vicharelli and Rodriguez, Jr. a chance to own up to their actions but said each officer “failed to take accountability” for their actions.

KGNS reached out to the Laredo Police Officers Association for comment, the president said that the association would prefer to wait for the outcome of the investigation before commenting.

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