Hidalgo County Border Fence-Levee Case Defended by Shaw Cowart Ended By Voluntary Dismissal of RICO Claim

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Following a four-year investigation and in the wake of remarks by a visiting judge that he “wrestled to find enough smoke to suggest that there is a fire some place” as reported by McAllen’s The Monitor, http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/article_b0b67d6c-070e-11e8-908c-d3161d4b6506.html, the final claim remaining against Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1’s former manager, Godfrey Garza, Jr., was voluntarily dismissed by the attorneys representing the drainage district.

The dismissal involved a claim filed by the drainage district alleging that Integ Corporation and Godfrey Garza, Jr. engaged in racketeering with others in connection with improperly profiting from drainage and levee border wall projects (Hidalgo County District Court, Hidalgo County, Texas, 275th Judicial District, Cause No. C-0373-17-E). Garza, Jr. was represented by Ethan Shaw of the Austin-based litigation boutique Shaw Cowart, LLP.

As reported by ProPublica, https://features.propublica.org/eminent-domain-and-the-wall/eminent-domain-border-wall-godfrey-garza-hidalgo-texas/ Garza defended his actions by saying that everything he did was "transparent", approved by county attorneys and received and unanimous approval by the Hidalgo County Commissioner’s Court, which convenes as the Hidalgo Drainage District No. 1 when making decisions about local drainage issues. Despite that, the drainage district filed suit in January 2017, alleging $3.5 million in damages. The drainage district’s lawsuit alleged breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conspiracy, unjust enrichment and constructive trust against Garza and his company, Integ Corporation. On January 31st of this year, visiting Judge Martin Chiuminatto ruled against those claims brought by the drainage district, The Monitor reported. http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/article_b0b67d6c-070e-11e8-908c-d3161d4b6506.html

Garza’s attorney said the county had forced his client to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend himself against “meritless allegations.” Garza “remains upset that he had to go through something like this, but he’s happy this part is over,” said Shaw, according to ProPublica. https://www.propublica.org/article/hidalgo-county-texas-lawsuit-fraud-border-wall-godfrey-garza

Garza’s wife, Annie, and sons, Jonathan and Godfrey Garza III, and their company Valley Data, were also named in the suit which received national media attention. Garza and his family have steadfastly denied accusations made to the County Commissioners Court beginning in 2014 when questions arose about rehabilitation of 22 miles of crumbling levees along the Rio Grande River to which a border fence was added.

“We’re hopeful the Hidalgo County Drainage District and the county commissioners will accept the rulings of the court,” Shaw said.

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Ethan Shaw

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