Monday, August 15, 2011

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Former TABC Agent Sentenced For Sexually Assaulting 16-Year-Old Girl

BASTROP A Bastrop County jury late Friday sentenced a former Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) agent to the maximum 20 years in prison for felony sexual assault of a minor, plus a $10,000 fine. The jury also sentenced Joe Chavez, 42, to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for felony online solicitation of a minor, plus one year in county jail and a $4,000 fine on a charge of official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial judge will determine on August 24 whether Chavez will serve the felony sentences concurrently or consecutively.

Chavez pled guilty to all three charges when his trial began last week. The jury returned a not guilty verdict on a second felony sexual assault of a child charge.

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Joe Chavez
Joe Chavez

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In June 2010, a Bastrop County grand jury issued four indictments charging Chavez with four felony violations and a Class A misdemeanor, official oppression. The charges stemmed from Chavez’s work as a state police officer with the TABC, where he investigated licensed alcohol retailers that were believed to be selling alcoholic beverages to minors.

According to state prosecutors, Chavez sexually assaulted a 16-year-old female after she assisted him with an undercover sting operation in 2009. That assault led to Chavez’s guilty pleas for both second-degree felony sexual assault and official oppression. Before the evening of the assault, the defendant sent the minor victim a text message containing a sexually explicit image of himself, which prompted his guilty plea on the online solicitation of a minor charge.

The case was referred to the Office of the Attorney General by the Bastrop County District Attorney’s Office, which recused itself from the Chavez prosecution. A criminal investigation into Chavez’s illicit conduct was conducted by the Texas Rangers and the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Department. Throughout the case, the TABC fully cooperated with the State’s investigation and prosecution of Chavez.

Sexual assault of a child is a second-degree felony punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and two to 20 years in prison for each count. Online solicitation of a minor is a third-degree felony punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and two to 10 years in prison. Official oppression is a Class A misdemeanor.