A former Bexar County constable convicted on two felony charges of tampering with evidence in September was sentenced Wednesday to five years probation, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.

Michelle Barrientes Vela, 48, also received a 90-day jail sentence from Judge Velia Meza of the 226th District Court, and was ordered to serve 600 hours of community service and pay a $2,500 fine.

“This case has always been about accountability. Elected officials and members of law enforcement are not above the law,” said Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales. “This felony conviction means Ms. Barrientes will not be able to work in law enforcement.”

In 2019, Vela, then the Precinct 2 constable, was accused by two San Antonio residents of forcing them to pay deputies to provide security for their Easter events in Rodriguez Park on the West Side, even though the county had already arranged for officers to watch all county parks that day.

Vela denied the accusations.

Evidence later showed that Vela knew a criminal investigation by a Bexar County Grand Jury was underway and she altered, destroyed or concealed cash logs from Rodriguez Park, officials said.

During a raid of her office and home by the FBI and Texas Rangers, Vela told a news station that she intended to run for Bexar County sheriff in 2020. Her statement amounted to a declaration of her candidacy, according to the DA’s office, and triggered a state law that ended her tenure as constable.

Amid Vela’s run for sheriff, she and her former captain Marc Duane Garcia were indicted on felony and misdemeanor charges. Despite the indictments, her campaign continued, but she lost to Javier Salazar, the current Bexar County sheriff, in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Sandra Santos

Sandra Santos

Sandra Santos is audience editor at the San Antonio Report.