Update for September 11, 2014

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County’s chief appraiser arrested, terminated due to Stalking case

Following a reported escalation of his alleged harassment of a former girlfriend to stalking, James Garcia was arrested while on the job as Medina County Appraisal District’s chief appraiser last week.

Citing a handwritten letter attributed to Garcia, which states the former girlfriend’s “dreams are his dreams and that her dreams will be extinguished on 01/02/2015 or sooner and that they all need to rest,” the arrest warrant reveals the woman’s fear for her life. The date is reportedly the one year anniversary of the date the former girlfriend terminated the relationship. The warrant also stated lives of law enforcement officers assigned to this case could be at risk.

Garcia allegedly continued to send the complainant packages at various times during the summer, following his arrest on May 9, 2014, for harassment. The packages contained gifts of a religious nature, cash, jewelry and Post-It notes, as well as personal handwritten letters and portions of a journal and a book.

“We arrested him on a Stalking charge, which is a 3rd degree felony,” Medina County Sheriff Randy Brown said. “He was terminated by the (Medina County Appraisal) board as chief appraiser for the county. He bonded out the same day he was arrested. There is a protective order in place (covering the complainant) and a trespass warning issued by me,” he continued.

“There was a lot of ammunition going through his office, as far as being shipped there and taken home,” Brown said. The sheriff said that no weapons or ammunition was confiscated when a search warrant was executed at his home, nor at his office when he was arrested. “He’s a gun collector. I don’t know what he has left, I only know that we didn’t find any firearms during our investigation. Where he has them, I have no idea.

“A search warrant was conducted, (but) it was not for weapons. What we were looking for allowed us to look basically everywhere and ammunition was found at his residence, but no firearms.” When asked what specifically law enforcement was looking for, Brown replied, “Anything pertaining to the case of stalking or future plans, so it would be electronic media, documents – letters, notes, Post-Its…. We were just trying to make sure we didn’t overlook something and then that escalates into something worse.”

Brown said items were confiscated during the search, but he declined to say specifically what, noting it was an ongoing case. “It would have been items that pertained to stalking… writings, computer and social media evidence.

“I hope later on we’re saying, ‘I hope we’ve overreacted to a lot of this,’ but we can’t restack the deck to win and later on say, ‘Well, none of this was necessary.’ Not on the stalking charge – that’s a legitimate charge,” he added. “When these things happen, you have to hit ‘em full force.

“He’s made enough comments that there’s concern, so we’re not just letting it go in one ear and out the other. I have a deputy posted there during business hours, so (employees) can focus on their jobs.

“It’s a sad situation; (Garcia) was there for 30 plus years and it’s sad that it’s come to what it did.

“We’ve warned him. I’ve told him, ‘James, you need to (be quiet), you scare people. You say (things) to people who don’t even know who you are.”

Brown said that Garcia has bragged about writing a book, but declined to discuss what it contained.

“(The case) will be filed with the district attorney’s office,” Brown continued. “We’re still going through some things. It will go to the grand jury and they will indict or not – true bill or no bill – and then we’ll go from there.”

When asked about a visit by the Secret Service to Garcia’s office earlier in the year regarding weapons and/or a threat made, Brown said he had heard this had occurred, but did not have direct confirmation from the Secret Service.

The Medina County Appraisal District terminated Garcia in an emergency meeting last Thursday afternoon, only hours after his arrest. Until a decision is made on who will take his place as the chief appraiser for the county’s appraisal district, Johnette Dixon has assumed his duties, according to her responsibilities as deputy appraiser.

The District sought applicants for the position earlier this year, after Garcia announced his retirement, originally planned for December 31, following his arrest on a harassment charge filed by the same woman. Two applications were received, and at their scheduled meeting on Tuesday, the board will select the new chief appraiser.


 
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