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Thursday, May 24, 2001

Hearing held on Republic weapons charges

Staff Writers

PECOS, Thurs., May 24, 2001 -- Five members of the Republic of Texas were back in U.S. District  Court in Pecos today, four years after their week-long standoff with  law enforcement officials near Fort Davis and five years after McLaren's  first court battle with the federal government began.

McLaren, the self-styled Ambassador of the Republic of Texas, was brought to court today along with his assistant, Robert "White Eagle" Otto, and three other Republic members, Richard Frank Keys, Greg Paulson and Karen Simon Paulson for a detention hearing in connection with the standoff, which occurred in late April and early May of 1997.

Today's detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Durwood Edwards of the Pecos Division was on charges that McLaren and the four other Republic of Texas members violated the National Firearms Act by receiving component to make bombs, the creation of the explosive devices, possession of destructive devices not identified by serial numbers and deployment of those devices for tactical purposes to cause injury or death to the law enforcement officers who surrounded the compound during the 1997 standoff.

The hearing was delayed 15 minutes this morning pending arrival of all of the defendants' attorneys. A final ruling by Judge Edwards had not been returned as of press time.

This morning's hearing was originally scheduled for Tuesday before Judge Edwards. U.S. Attorney Gerald Carruth out of Austin re-read the charges at the start of the hearing, in which the government stated that Texas Rangers found nail bombs, a propane tank bomb, gasoline bombs and black power explosives wired to be set off along a dry creek bed and along the road leading to McLaren's compound southwest of Fort Davis.

Along with the bombs and bomb-making equipment found by law enforcement officials following the end of the standoff, Carruth said three handguns and 11 rifles, some semi-automatic, were found at the compound.

He said in an agreement reached with Karen Paulson in October of last year, she provided evidence about the chain of command of the Republic of Texas members, and told federal officials her job was to guard the front gate to the compound and to defend it if necessary by touching the firing button for the wired explosive devices.

Paulson said that McLaren and Otto were the Republic's ambassadors, Robert Scheidt received a rank of captain, Keyes was listed as a lieutenant, Greg Paulson was a sergeant and she was a private.

Shortly after Karen Paulson gave her statement, Carruth said Greg Paulson admitted his involvement in connection with the firearms violations, saying he helped train Republic members in firearms and in the detonation of the destructive devices. Paulson said he was also involved in discussions on how to set up the pipe bombs.

During the hearing McLaren and the other defendants' arguments centered around a lack of jurisdiction by the federal court claiming that they were prisoners of war and as such were due a hearing under an international court as provided for by the Geneva Convention.

The detention hearing is required by federal court rules once a person is taken into federal custody. Until recently the defendants were in state custody, either serving sentences from state convictions arising from the 1997 standoff in the Davis Mountains, some of which are pending appeal.

McLaren and Otto had their state kidnapping convictions in connection with the abduction of Joe and Margaret Ann Rowe reversed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in El Paso, a decision current being appeals by the state before the Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin. The two were kidnapped from their house next to McLaren's compound. Keyes' conviction on the same charge was sustained on appeal by the El Paso court, while Greg Paulson is serving an aggravated life sentence and Karen Paulson a 30 year sentence on state charges related to the standoff. The state cases were tried in 311th District Court in Marfa.

McLaren also is serving a 12-year federal sentence for mail fraud filed in the Northern District of Texas, and was cited 1996 by U.S. District Court Judge Lucius D. Bunton for filing $1.8 billion in false liens against properties in the Davis Mountain Resort area in a lawsuit brought be Houston-based Stewart Title Co.

McLaren was arrested by U.S. Marshals in May of 1996 and spent a month in jail before agreeing to Bunton's conditions for release. When he failed to live up to those conditions, another arrest order was issued in December 1996. McLaren remained inside his compound near Fort Davis for the next four months, before the standoff began when the Rowes were taken hostage on April 27, 1997.

County, P-B-T cautious on use of tax windfall

Staff Writers

PECOS, Thurs., May 24, 2001 -- Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo doesn't see any  major changes in county spending, despite the pending windfall in property  taxes due to the increase in oil and gas valuations during the past  year, because he's not sure the higher oil and gas prices will last.

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Superintendent Don Love also plans no major changes due to the school district's potential tax revenue increase, and added that even if oil and gas prices stay up, the schools won't see any benefits after this year.

Preliminary valuations released by Reeves County Appraiser Carole King Markham show Reeves County's valuations are up $134 million this year, while the P-B-T ISD's valuations grew by almost $150 million due to the rising oil and natural gas prices. Based on current tax rates, that will translate into an additional $750,000 for the county, and nearly $2.25 million more for the school district.

But Love explained that due to the `Robin Hood" school funding equalization plan passed by the Texas Legislature six years ago, the state of Texas will take out $2.25 million from the amount of funding they give the school district in 2003, give or take any changes in the district's average daily student attendance, on which part of the funding formula is based.

"We could be looking at with a $1.50 tax rate we will get $2.2 million, but it's a one-year deal," Love said, explaining that the state aid to P-B-T ISD, which totaled around $ 9 million this year, is based on the total weighted average daily attendance (WADA) of students in the school district two years ago.

"Next year if we get $2.2 million (in taxes from valuations) the state will take $2.2 million away from us," he said.

Love added that the school district would have to raise the same amount of money raised last year in taxes in order to receive the Tier II money, and he said because of the boost in tax revenues resulting from the hike in mineral valuations, the district would face an automatic tax rollback election this year.

"We can't even get it (full state funding) unless we force a rollback election," he said.

A rollback could cut the district's tax rate by about 15 cents per $100 valuation, but Love said that setting this year's tax rate at $1.50 would be ideal, because the state will take back their $2.2 million next year. Under current Texas law, the tax rate could only be raised by six cents the following years, meaning it would be three to four years before the school district could return to the present funding levels if voters approve the rollback. And a sudden drop in oil and gas valuations could leave the school district facing a $4 to $5 million deficit in 2003.

Love said P-B-T isn't the only school district facing the same potential problem due to the sudden rise in valuations. "Andrews' valuations went up by $486 million. That's an extra $7.27 million (in taxes) they'll get," in 2002, before the state takes away that $7.27 million in 2003.

Love said that whatever money the school district does get during the 2001-2002 school year he would focus the spending on improving the district's facilities and maintenance.

He said that he would like to use the money to fix roofs, replace some air conditioning and whatever needs to be done around the district.

"This is a golden opportunity to really fix up things that need to be fixed up," he said.

Reeves County doesn't have to worry about school equalization funding formulas, but Galindo said he also was looking at the extra funds as not being a permanent change.

"Given the volatility of the products (oil and gas), it's very difficult to make structural changes based on a market that could bottom out.

"We'll look to use any windfall to improve the quality of life," he said, but added they would have to be one-time expenses.

"One of the things we desperately need is a good swimming pool, because we're having trouble with the Northside pool and the city is having problems with their pool," he said. "Maybe with us working jointly with the city we can invest in an Olympic-sized outdoors pool right of U.S. 285.

"It would be something we need to touch base with our constituents on, on what they would like to do with any windfall for this fiscal year. Others may have other ideas," Galindo said.

He said that because of the oil and gas price changes over the past four years — prices were at a inflation-adjusted historical low at the end of 1998 — he didn't think cutting taxes right now was a good idea.

"We may do a temporary cut in taxes this year and find the oil money is not there next year," he said. "We have cut taxes by a few cents since I took office, and I think the community supports a gradual reduction in taxes and then keep it that way, and not a flip flop where we have to raise the tax rate back up."

Meanwhile, the Town of Pecos City doesn't have the same tax windfall situation, since almost all the increase in oil and gas valuations came from land outside the city limits. Due to the tax abatement Pecos gave Anchor West for it's factory expansion, the city's tax base actually shrank slightly this year, but City Manager Carlos Yerena said that he is not worried.

"It just reinforces our commitment to economic development," he said.

Yerena said that the city has been working towards economic development in order to better the community and quality of life.

"We're going to try to do is be very aggressive with economic development," he said.

Yerena explained that the city wants to help local businesses and bring more businesses and families into town.

"Economic development is very important to the community," he said.

Annexation is also one of the top priorities for the city, according to Yerena.

He said that the city is working toward annexation nearby sections of the county "so we can grow."

The Reeves County Hospital District's valuations also went up this year by the same $134 million as Reeves County did, but Hospital Administrator Robert Vernor said he has not had a chance to go over the valuations.

Vernor said that he and the RCH Board of Directors would discuss what would be done with the money sometime in the future.

Reminder about juvenile curfew issued by police

PECOS, Thurs., May 24, 2001 -- Pecos Police Department would like to remind the community  that with school out after today, curfew hours for minors are 10 p.m. on  any Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday  and continuing until 6 a.m. on the following day; and 12:01 a.m.   until 6 a.m. on any Saturday or Sunday.

Please assist the Department in the compliance of this ordinance.

If you have any questions concerning the curfew ordinance, contact Patrol Lieutenant Tony Dawdy at 445-4911.


High Wednesday 102. Low this morning 60. Forecasr for  tonight: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Low  55 to 60. East wind 5 to 15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy with a 20  percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. High near  90. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Mostly cloudy with a  20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low around  60. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High in the upper 90s. Sunday: Partly  cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Low around  60. High 90 to 95.

Police Report

EDITOR'S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report  is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department,  Reeves County Sheriff's Office, or other officers of those agencies.

The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instanced we will indicate payment and release.


Edward Villalobos, 35, was arrested at 12:45 a.m., on May 14 in the 600 block of South Sycamore Street for public intoxication, evading arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.


Paul Marquez Abila, 21, was arrested at 1:24 a.m., on May 21 in the 100 block of East Ninth for driving while intoxicated.


Lionel Pando, 29, was arrested at 7:47 p.m., on May 19 at Seventh and Martinez for driving with a suspended license.


Gilberto Hidalgo, 22, was arrested at 8:41 p.m., on May 19 at Washington and Eddy Streets for two DPS warrants for speeding and failure to adjudicate.


Florentine Salcido, 38, was arrested at 11:21 p.m., on May 19 in the 500 block of North Willow for assault under the Family Violence Act, a Class A Misdemeanor.


Imelda Garcia, 43, was arrested at 1:19 a.m., on May 20 at La Officina on two warrants for Capias Pro Fine.


Rosa Hernandez, 37, and Gilberto Lopez, 63, were arrested at 1:45 a.m., on May 19 at La Officina both for public intoxication.


Maria Carrera, 33, was arrested at 9:50 a.m., on May 18 in the 800 block of Eddy Street on a warrant for parole violation.


Jose Flores Jauregui, 39, was arrested at 6:25 p.m., on May 17 in the 1600 block of West Sixth Street for evading.


Annette Viscara, 30, was arrested at 3:48 p.m., on May 17 at Veterans and Bickley Streets for driving while intoxicated refusal.


Mathew Armendariz, 20, Herby Armendariz, 49, Vicky M. Renteria, 39, and Rhonda M. Renteria, 18, were arrested at 2:21 a.m., on May 23 in the 2300 block of Texas Street. Mathew Armendariz was arrested on an Ector County Sheriff's Office warrant for motion to revote probation, driving while intoxicated and failure to ID to a Peace Officer. Herby Armendariz was arrested for public intoxication. Vicky Renteria was arrested for abuse of aerosol paint and inhalant paraphernalia while Rhonda Renteria was arrested for abuse of aerosol paint.


Jimmy Ray Patterson, 28, and Dell Ray Barney, 48, were arrested at 9:12 a.m., on May 22 at Flying J Truckstop both for disorderly conduct (fighting). Both were issued fines and released.


Eric Armendariz, 19, was arrested at 8:51 p.m., on May 21 in the 2100 block of Johnson Street on a Sheriff's Office warrant for enticing a child.


Esmeralda Morena, 20, was arrested at 12:57 a.m., on May 22 at Anchor West on a police department warrant for criminal mischief.


A male juvenile was arrested at 11:26 a.m., on May 21 at Pecos High School for assault causing bodily injury (Class A).


Rigoberto Perez, 24, was arrested at 7:14 p.m., on May 23 at Walthall and Oak Streets on a warrant for motion to revoke/assault causing bodily injury.


Benito Salcido, 61, was arrested at 7:41 p.m., on May 23 in the Bob's Thriftway parking lot a two warrants for seizure of vehicle and delivery of marijuana.


Anthony Dick, 20, was arrested at 11:20 p.m., on May 23 at the bus station for public intoxication.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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