LAREDO (CN) – Webb County Tax Assessor-Collector Patricia Barrera fired nine employees for refusing to gamble on football and “mandatory” raffles to raise money for Barrera’s campaign, and for participating in the Texas attorney general’s investigation of the corrupt gambling activities, the fired workers say in Federal Court.
Barrera has been Webb County Tax Assessor-Collector since 1993. Its county seat is Laredo.
Plaintiffs say that since 1996, participation in four raffles a year “was mandatory for all approximately 40 employees of the WCTAC.”
Barrera and three co-defendants under her “enforced participation in the raffles by verbal threats, intimidation and open hostility, including, but not limited to, the threat of termination, the threat that terminated employees would be black-balled from other government and nongovernment jobs, or other unspecified retaliation,” the complaint states.
All 30 tellers in Barrera’s office were issued at least 20 raffle tickets apiece and ordered to sell them for $1 to $5 apiece, or buy them themselves. They were ordered to sell them to customers, during business hours, on pain of retaliation, the plaintiffs say.
Also named as defendants are Webb County and WCTAC supervisors Mary Novoa, Rosa Hernandez and Dora Jimenez.
Plaintiffs demand reinstatement, punitive damages, a protective injunction, costs and attorney’s fees. They are represented by Albert Gutierrez with Gutierrez Wymer of San Antonio.