Robert Castañeda, treasurer for the Keep BexarMet political action committee, was arrested last week, accused of writing a hot check on October 15, 2011, for $1,000 to campaign worker Cristina Duarte, according to a probable cause affidavit. He's charged with theft of service.
Castañeda’s wife, Gina, formed the PAC in an effort to save the scandal-ridden Bexar Metropolitan Water District from dissolution. She's a longtime South Side political operative who frequently takes up tough cases; before joining the pro-BexarMet campaign, she emerged as an unabashed supporter of Dan Ramos, the disgraced and ousted chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party.
But despite the PAC's work, South Side voters approved disbanding the utility and merging its assets with San Antonio Water System on November 8th.
Keep BexarMet paid Duarte for “contract labor” during the campaign, according to the group's campaign finance report, filed just before the election. That report, signed by Robert Castañeda, stated the group had raised $11,971.37 in contributions and spent $12,368.38 on campaign signs, canvassers, printing, and other goods and services.
Castañeda, a former Harlandale school board member, has a long history of hot-check-related charges – he's been hit with eight, dating back to 1989. He received deferred adjudication in those previous cases.
I was unable to reach Castañeda, who's out on bail, but spoke with Gina by phone. "He's not guilty, and we're going to let the process work and show he didn't do anything wrong," she said.
The treasurer's lawyer declined to elaborate on the charges.
“I’m not going to comment at this point, until we get further into the case,” said attorney John Longoria, a former county commissioner and state representative.
— Brian Collister, WOAI Investigative Reporter. Find him online at woai.com. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.