An attorney and a case runner have been sentenced in Texas on felony charges related to soliciting business from a victim’s family after a fatal accident. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott reported that Corpus Christi attorney Benito Garza and case runner Timothy “Sugar Bear” Trevino were sentenced on felony barratry charges.
In 2010, state police officers with the Attorney General’s office executed an evidentiary search warrant at the office of The Garza Law Firm in Corpus Christi. According to the search warrant affidavit, Garza and Trevino unlawfully solicited legal employment from family members of a man who was killed in an automobile accident. The deceased man’s mother said the defendants arrived at her home uninvited at 1 a.m. to make an unsolicited sales call and offer legal services to the victim’s family.
Garza pleaded no contest to one count of barratry, a third-degree felony offense, the AG’s office said. In addition to serving 10 years’ probation and paying a $6,000 fine, Garza was to immediately surrender his license to practice law.
Garza was also required to testify against his co-defendant, case runner Trevino. Trevino was convicted on one felony barratry charge and was sentenced to three years in prison.
The Texas Penal Code says that an individual commits barratry if, with intent to obtain an economic benefit, the person solicits employment, either in person or by telephone, for himself or for another, according to the AG’s office.