Criminal Justice

Texas Lawyer, Known for Indigent Defense, Indicted on Charges of Theft, Forging Judges' Signatures

Corrected: Hilda Valadez, a Texas lawyer who reportedly earned $403,000 for her state court indigent defense work, was indicted Thursday for allegedly forging judges’ signatures and double-billing Bexar County for her services.

A former assistant district attorney, Valadez handled 478 indigent defense cases over three years, the San Antonio Express-News reports. Comparatively, lawyers doing indigent defense work over the same period took on 139 cases on average.

Valadez, 51, faces 46 felony counts. If convicted, she could be sentenced to serve up to 20 years in prison. According to the Express-News, she did not return a phone call seeking comment.

A judge’s clerk last year noticed that signatures on two reimbursement forms for Valadez did not match the judge’s signature, and an investigation was launched. According to the district attorney’s office, investigators found similar issues regarding two other judges. Also, the agency alleges it uncovered $120,000 in “incorrectly processed” vouchers, according to county district attorney Susan Reed.

Last year, the Express-News wrote an article about Valadez being paid substantially more reimbursements than other Bexar County indigent defense lawyers. At the time, she cited her work ethic and ability to speak Spanish as influencing her numbers.

“I’m here a lot and show up on time,” she told the paper.

Last updated Sunday to correct spelling of Hilda Valadez’s name.

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