Felony indictments filed for Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo’s chief of staff, 2 others in $11M COVID-19 outreach contract investigation

Felony indictments filed for Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo’s chief of staff, 2 others in $11M COVID-19 outreach contract investigation

HOUSTON – Three employees with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s Office are now named in felony indictments filed on Monday.

Online court records show Hidalgo’s chief of staff, Alex Triantaphyllis, policy director Wallis Nader and a former senior advisor, Aaron Dunn, are now facing felony indictments. Nader and Dunn are charged with misuse of official information while Triantaphyllis is charged with tampering with a governmental record.

Triantaphyllis, Nader and Dunn were previously named in search warrants executed by Texas Rangers on March 11.

“All I’m going to say is that we followed the law, we followed the evidence,” said Michael Levine with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. “We had a grand jury and we hear from a lot of witnesses.”

Related: New search warrant requests Google Docs in probe involving Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, team

According to search warrants, investigators were looking for any communications or files that may show they disclosed non-public information to Felicity Pereyra, who founded Elevate Strategies.

Elevate Strategies was awarded an $11 million COVID-19 outreach contract by the county. However, it was revoked last fall after questions about how it was awarded.

Related: Judge Lina Hidalgo’s lawyer claims investigation is a misunderstanding

KPRC 2 Investigates has requested comments from the attorneys of those indicted.

“Aaron Dunn is innocent. He has been an honest and dedicated public servant. He didn’t share any information, he didn’t commit any crime and he ultimately will be vindicated,” Dane Ball, Dunn’s attorney, told KPRC 2 Investigates in a phone call.

Hidalgo’s office shared this statement with KPRC 2 on Tuesday:

”News reports have already shown that recent accusations suffer from a serious lack of understanding of the facts. My team will remain on my staff and continue to make meaningful positive changes on behalf of the people of Harris County. It’s no coincidence that these unfair allegations are being leveled against them in the middle of an election year.”

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office released the following statement:

“Since the State of Texas disbanded the Public Integrity Unit, which was housed at Travis County District Attorney’s Office, the responsibility for such work has landed exclusively with district attorneys across the state,” said Dane Schiller, spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. “Prosecutors presented the evidence to a Harris County grand jury, which determined there was sufficient evidence for criminal charges. We will follow the evidence wherever it leads and apply the law equally to all; our work continues.”

Commissioner Rodney Ellis released the following statement:

“During her time in office, Judge Hidalgo has gone out of her way to hold herself and her staff to the highest ethical standards. From recent press reports we have seen, there are still too many unanswered questions about the facts of the Elevate contract investigation for us to pass judgment. These public servants have earned the benefit of the doubt until the system plays out and the facts prevail.”

Hidalgo released another statement on Twitter:

All three staffers have been released on a $3,500 bail.

According to the details of their bond release, the trio cannot discuss details of the case with one another, they cannot have contact with any documentation related to the case and they cannot serve on any committee or group that would be considered any kind of government contract.

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Journalistic bulldog focused on accountability and how government is spending your dollars. Husband to Wonder Woman, father to a pitcher and two Cavapoos. Prefers queso over salsa.