Seven Travis Co. Tax Assessor Collector office employees arrested amid fraud investigation

Top row: Shell Kenneth Prieto-Reese, 43, Cathy Lynn Wilson, 57, Susie Alvarez Araujo, 43, Steven Hernandez, 35. Bottom row: Hipolita Tiquet De Dios, 41, Cecil Leary, Jr., 61, Eulalio Hernandez, 72. (Photos: Texas Department of Public Safety)

The Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division arrested seven suspects accused of fraudulent activities in the Travis County Tax Assessor Collector Offices.

DPS says the investigation launched in March 2018 and focused on Tax Assessor employees and non-employees who were believed to be conducting fraudulent activity related to license plate issuance.

“This audit revealed some irregularities that were alarming,” says DPS spokesperson Freeman Martin.

Four of the seven arrested were Tax Assessor employees, one was a spouse, and two others worked with title companies.

“There’s a potential for corruption if you have an employee who is working with say a particular title company and they’re lowering the value of that vehicle so they’re paying less taxes—is a good broad example of how these cases came about,” says Martin.

According to DPS, computers, phones, and $72,000 were seized in the investigation.

The following people were arrested during the operation and booked in to the Travis County Jail:

  • Shell Kenneth Prieto-Reese, 43, Theft by Public Servant
  • Cathy Lynn Wilson, 57, Theft by Public Servant
  • Susie Alvarez Araujo, 43, Theft by Public Servant
  • Steven Hernandez, 35, Theft by Public Servant
  • Hipolita Tiquet De Dios, 41, Engaging in Organize Crime
  • Cecil Leary, Jr., 61, Engaging in Organize Crime
  • Eulalio Hernandez, 72, Engaging in Organize Crime

DPS was assisted in the investigation by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Travis County Auditor and the Travis County Judge.

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