San Antonio police arrested attorney Martin Phipps, who is representing Bexar County in its lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, on Monday on a misdemeanor charge of telephone harassment.

The arrest stemmed from allegations that Phipps harassed a woman who said she fled to Mexico on Dec. 26 after he confronted her “in an aggressive and agitated state,” according to KSAT-TV, citing the arrest warrant. After she left, Phipps sent her dozens of text messages meant to demean and harass her, according to authorities.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

The woman, who was married to Phipps at the time, has since filed for an annulment, the television station reported.

The incident came to light following complaints filed by Phipps’ former law partner, T.J. Mayes, who resigned from the Phipps Mayes firm on Jan. 11. 

Within days of his resignation, Mayes submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a joint letter signed by five of the firm’s employees accusing Phipps of abuse within the workplace. Most of the workers subsequently resigned. 

Mayes also filed a formal complaint with the Texas Bar Association accusing Phipps of fraud, improper use of client funds, mental illness, and substance abuse, and stated that Phipps asked him to use his contacts in the courthouse to destroy a marriage license obtained in late 2020. 

“The first two weeks after I left the firm I was bringing information to various entities around town that I thought that Martin Phipps was a danger to himself or others, and everybody kind of treated it like a standard employment law dispute, which I took offense to,” Mayes said.

Mayes told the San Antonio Report on Jan. 27 that evidence of Phipps’ misconduct includes text messages from the woman, who had been married to Phipps for less than a week on the night she left for Mexico, and other emails and audio recordings.

Mayes said he was interviewed on Feb. 1 by a police detective for over an hour.

Phipps’ firm is representing Bexar County in a 2017 lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry’s opioid makers seeking $1 billion in damages. In December, defendants proposed a $26 billion settlement for state and local governments, but the Phipps firm wants to take the matter to trial.

Gabe Ortiz, an attorney with the Phipps firm, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the complaints Mayes filed against Phipps, he delivered sworn affidavits to County officials, he said, about what he called Phipps’ untreated mental health and substance issues.

“It was causing him to miss deadlines in the Bexar County lawsuit,” Mayes said.

The San Antonio Business Journal has reported that a private jet belonging to Phipps was repossessed in November after he defaulted on a $1.7 million loan for it. Phipps is seeking some of the proceeds from the aircraft’s subsequent sale, according to the report.

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the business beat reporter at the San Antonio Report.