Investigation Exposes Lack of County Criminal Background Checks

Not everyone who works for the Hidalgo County gets a criminal background check before being hired. Jaime Longoria, executive administrator for county Judge Ramon Garcia’s office, said Hidalgo County has never had a written policy about background checks, but it’s known they don’t require one for every single position. There is a section that asks if the person applying has been convicted of a felony, and the employer takes it on good faith that the prospect isn’t lying. But there’s been at least one employee who slipped through the cracks and since his position didn’t require a background check, the convicted sex offender started working in the streets of Hidalgo County under county commissioner AC Cuellar. Action 4 News first alerted commissioner Cuellar after a concerned viewer questioned the man’s employment since he was convicted back in 2002 for raping a child. He is now filling potholes and doing other maintenance work on roads across the county, in neighborhoods, and near schools. A criminal background check would have picked up on his offense. “It’s just too expensive to do background checks on everybody,” said Cuellar. “We have thousands of employees and we can’t check all of them.”

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