juica

PAYNE SPRINGS, Texas — A search warrant affidavit, obtained by inForney.com, further details the charges against a Payne Springs husband-wife accused of using city funds for personal gain.

66-year-old Michael Steven Juica and 59-year-old Karen Juica were jailed overnight on charges for abuse of official capacity and forgery, inForney.com first reported overnight.

Michael Juica is a Payne Springs City Council member and the city's vehicle maintenance supervisor. His wife, Karen Juica, was the city's secretary until her recent suspension amid the criminal investigation. Prior to her role as the city's secretary, she served as the city' judge, according to the Henderson County Sheriff's Office.

According to the search warrant affidavit, Payne Springs Police Department Chief April Meadows, on suspicion of corruption among city officials, obtained documentation and receipts which allege the Juica's were using city funds for personal gain. Those documents were then turned over to a Henderson County Sheriff's Office investigator.

Among the receipts were several from Napa Auto Parts, each displaying a customer of the City of Payne Springs with "mike" in the PO# line. Upon inspection, the receipts contained handwritten notes near the bottom which read "CROWVIC — CHARGER" and "1999 FORD."

The parts detailed on the Napa Auto Parts' receipts did not fit any of the city-owned Crown Victorias, the Dodge Charger, or the 1999 Ford F-250. Instead, the affidavits says a search of Napa's website indicated they fit a 2005 Dodge Neon — which is one vehicle owned by the Juica's and driven daily by Karen Juica.

Other documents details a series of repairs at an Athens, Texas, auto repair shop — including the purchase of a wheel bearing and fuel pump assembly for a Dodge Neon. A witness at that auto repair shop told investigator's Micheal Juica had brought in his wife's vehicle for repair and instructed an employee to leave the vehicle description information field empty. Upon review, "1999 FORD" was handwritten in the vehicle description line and the invoice was later approved by the mayor.

Meadows also told investigators she personally witnessed Michael Juica using the city's credit card to purchase fuel at a gas station for employee's personal vehicles. The most recent such purchase was on August 20, 2020.

The Juica's are also alleged to have taken the city's maintenance vehicle out of town using gas purchased on the city's credit card.

Meadows also provided an Appointment of Licensee Application, also known as an L-1, which is a governmental document for the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. The document was to hire Dennis Custard and was signed "Timothy Meadows," who is April Meadows husband and a former chief of the Payne Springs Police Department. The form was also notarized by Karen Juica on February 2, 2020. Meadows told investigators it wasn't her husband's signature and he wasn't employed by the city at the time of its signing and notarization.

In an interview with investigators, Timothy Meadow stated he did not sign the form and did not know a Dennis Custard. Timothy Meadows provided a print and signature example which was compared to a 2010 L-1 form he previously signed. The sample and 2010 L-1 form matched but the suspected forged document did not, the investigator noted in the affidavit.

In his interview, Timothy Meadows suspected his successor to have signed the document alongside Karen Juica. His successor, in an interview with police, denied signing Timothy Meadow's name to the form.

Investigators also obtained a City of Payne Springs Impound Lot invoice which did not list any taxes or fees, a violation of the Texas Tax Code. A Texas State Comptroller's Office investigators also noted there were no records of submitted taxes from the city impound lot or state mandated court costs and fees in reference to citations issued by the Payne Springs Police Department and processed through the Payne Springs Municipal Court.

A search warrant granted a search of the Juicas' Payne Springs-area home and the seizure of a laptop issued to Karen Juica by the City of Payne Springs and any document, record, or credit card that pertained to or belonged to the City of Payne Springs that were acquired by the Juicas' official capacities with the City of Payne Springs. The search warrant at the Juicas' residence and the Payne Springs City Hall were executed on September 10, 2020, according to the sheriff's office.

Michael Juica was arrested and charged with one count of forgery of a governmental document and abuse of official capacity. His bonds were set at $15,000 and $10,000, respectively. Karen Juica was arrested and charged with two counts of forgery of a governmental document and is being held on $10,000 bonds on each charge.

According to Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse, the case remains under investigation by his office, the Henderson County District Attorney's Office, and the Texas Comptroller's Office.