Judge to senator: Get your hands out of that trust fund

Jon Cassidy
|
Jun 19, 2014 5:00 AM
Judge to senator: Get your hands out of that trust fund
AP file photo

STOP: Texas state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, can’t pay herself out of funds she’s suppose to be managing for two wealthy sisters.

 

By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org

LAREDO, Texas — A court has ordered state Sen. Judith Zaffirini to stop paying herself out of funds that she is supposed to be managing in trust for the heir of two wealthy sisters.

Zaffirini and her associates have paid themselves more than $1.2 million in various attorney’s fees and executor fees out of a cluster of interlocking partnerships, trusts, and an estate they control for the ostensible benefit of Rocio G. Guerra.

Guerra sued Zaffirini and her associates, alleging that they are effectively looting the inheritance that her mother and aunt left her and her two children. That inheritance, mostly real estate in a fast-developing part of Laredo, has been valued as high as $150 million.

In response, Zaffirini’s side filed papers arguing that Guerra, her distant cousin, should forfeit her inheritance. They also cut off her monthly support payment last September, after a dispute over a car purchase.

In orders filed during the past three weeks, Judge Jesus Garza rejected the argument that Guerra should forfeit her inheritance, ordered Zaffirini and her associates to continue monthly support payments to Guerra, and restricted their attorney’s fees to $15,000 a month, payable to the lead attorney.

Zaffirini’s side had been billing fees upwards of $100,000 a month through the beginning of this year. She and her associates had already collected $420,000 in executor fees from estate that only had $107,169 in cash and receivables.

Garza found that if Zaffirini’s side kept scooping so much money out of the trust, it would “make ineffectual a judgment in favor of Rocio Guerra, in that it may cause the irretrievable loss of substantial assets that were meant to benefi t… Rocio G. Guerra and her two minor children …”

The court also ordered Zaffirini and associates “to desist and refrain from … (p)aying their legal fees and expenses from the Fiduciary Assets … (and u)sing any of the Fiduciary Assets for their own personal benefit …”

Contact Jon Cassidy at jon@watchdog.org or @jpcassidy000.