GALVESTON — A punishment hearing began Monday for a former county social services worker who pleaded guilty in a case of what prosecutors said was the theft of more than $55,000 from four indigent wards, whose financial accounts she managed.

Sylvia Ann Villarreal, 47, of Hitchcock, pleaded guilty June 17 without a plea bargain to theft by public servant and faces from two to 20 years in prison on the second-degree felony charge.

Contact reporter Chris Paschenko at 409-683-5241 or


Recommended for you

(10) comments

Dwight Burns

Just make her pay back the money. She can't pay the tax payers back is she's doing hard time on our dime.

It is time our justice systems all over America began to realize that we jail or imprison
more people then any Country in the World. We cannot afford to keep this up.

J. Shaffer

Why would we not audit those handling money for a ward of the state? No audits in nearly 10 years?

The potential for theft is there and there DEFINITELY should have been an audit when the ward was being threatened with eviction.

Note, too, the workers who used their own dime to pay for snacks for the person.

It's long been demonstrated that the poor are more generous than the rich, giving a greater percent of income to help those truly in need while the wealthy donate to charities like the symphony, ballet or Romney's dancing ponies.

Chris Gimenez

NurseJayne, could you provide some factual basis for your statement that "it's long been demonstrated that the poor are more generous than the rich"? In fact the poor are the users of charity-not the funders of charity. Here's a little factoid for you to mull over although I don't really think you're interested in the truth.

"Well, I'm not sure where you define wealthy...but the upper 50% of the wage earners pay @97% of all tax collections, and the lower ones only @3%. The upper of the upper pay a disproportionate share of that too, the Top 1% of earners = 37% of taxes paid, the next bracket 2-5% accounts for another 20%. So about 57% paid by the top 5%. Especially as this is for Personal Income Tax only, and many of the more wealthy have much of the income taxed (some would say double taxed) by in the Corporate returns of those corporations they control/own."

I know that you liberals love to disparage those who actually work and produce in this society while coddling and enabling those who don't but the facts are stubborn. This country operates from what the top earners in this country have taken from them in the form of taxes. Unless you're privy to the personal tax returns of the wealthy, I'm not sure how you can say with any believability that it's "long been demonstrated that the poor are more generous than the rich". That's just more of the Obama class warfare rhetoric.

Lars Faltskog

Response to bvresident posted at 8:17 am on Tue, Aug 13, 2013:

We all know that what NurseJayne said is in regard to "proportional" generosity. Sure, by sheer numbers of $, the rich appears to be more generous.

However, it is the middle class and lower middle class who truly tithe to their churches, show up at food pantries, and with the sweat of their brow they help the underpriviledged. Rich folks "hire out". They give much lower proportion to their high earnings - much of theirs tucked away - similar to failed candidate Rob-me's foreign accounts.

Exception: Jimmy Carter. Although a rich person, he is a true high class of an individual. His involvement with Habitat for Humanity, helping with the construction of houses (and at his age). You don't see wimpy little shrub Bush doing that.

Island Bred

What I find is that although I am not rich - what I do is often give to folks or to agencies without a tax credit. There are several ways to give. I often give to people and when you look at just random giving without the benefit of claiming it on taxes - I believe Jayne is more that right. I know at the end of the year I often think about the hundreds I know I have given thruough out the year. I never get to claim a dime. Stupid??? Perhaps but then again there is more to this life that what we are allowed to claim. Something tells me Karma knows when it's from the heart rather than a pet project you might get an award for........... just sayin

Chris Gimenez

"However, it is the middle class and lower middle class who truly tithe to their churches, show up at food pantries, and with the sweat of their brow they help the underpriviledged. Rich folks "hire out". They give much lower proportion to their high earnings - much of theirs tucked away - similar to failed candidate Rob-me's foreign accounts."

Hogwash. Pure and simple. Not one piece of factual evidence to support anything you said but this is how liberals-who typically work for government rather than actually contribute to society through the creation of employment opportunities-try to justify their lack of participation. You see, liberals believe that if they talk as if they're more empathetic and sympathetic and care more about others (and it's usually just that-talk) then somehow they actually are. It's the do as I say not as I do theorem and it's ingrained in the liberal mindset.

As for George Bush, it doesn't take much to find out that he does his talking through action. Unlike this hypocrite we have leading our country into ruin today.

George Croix

A good Bud of mine referred to such folks as "the Good and Kind People, self-declared'.
Actually, the world needs such phonies and personal back slappers so that everybody else knows what not to act like.
BUT, for truth in advertising, it's a fact that the Obama's donated nearly 25% of their reported 2012 personal income (adjusted gross) to charity, coming in at a tad over 150,000 bucks. While the the Romneys only donated 12% of their 2012 personal income to their Church, and another 6% to their family charitable foundation, for a total of 18%, coming in at 4 million bucks donated, and change.
With that info alone, the Obamas win the percent battle, and the Romneys win the volume war.
However, in keeping with that truth in advertising, it must be recalled that the Obamas, as do all presidents, get taxpayer provided lodging, utilities, food, and transportation.
I don't know what the value in kind figure, adjusted for what a private citizen would pay out of their pocket for the same amenities, is.
Can't be much. AF1 only costs about 180 grand an hour to operate...

J. Shaffer

"but the upper 50% of the wage earners pay @97% of all tax collections, and the lower ones only @3%"

This is the way some play with the numbers to skew the results. If one person has a pie the size of a truck and one has a pie the size of a quarter, how can you hold a slice of each up to each other as a proportional comparison?

Warren Buffet, who GETS economics, points out that he pays a smaller percent of his income to taxes than his secretary does. That the check he writes is bigger is not the issue.

As for backing up my theory that the poor are more generous, read, Nickel And Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Chris Gimenez

Are you saying those numbers are incorrect or they just don't work to support what you would have everyone believe? The little factoid that Warren left out when he stated his disparity about taxes is that his secretary is being taxed on income that is coming from wages while his income is coming from capital gains which until recently had been taxed at 15%. Is he or Mitt or anyone else who is deriving the bulk of their income from capital gains somehow gaming the system? Of course not.

Here's the bottom line for Warren. He is allowed to pay the federal government any amount over what is actually due without any cap or limitations. Instead he chose to give the bulk of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (some more evil rich people) to use for charitable purposes rather than giving it to the feds to waste on aid that is designed to keep their voters in poverty and dependent rather than productive and contributing.

I would suggest your author is nothing more than another liberal do nothing who believes in forced income redistribution through government wage mandates that don't make this country one bit more competitive against the rest of the world. Here's some different thoughts on Ms. Ehrenreich's work and an example of her attempt to use the poor for her own benefit-ie; to sell her books.

From Wikipedia:
"Response and criticism[edit source]

In response to Nickel and Dimed, Adam Shepard undertook a project that he later wrote about in his book Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream. A February 11, 2008 article in The Christian Science Monitor summarizes his story.[1] With only $25 in his pocket, Adam Shepard spent 10 months in South Carolina, eventually landing a job, buying a pickup truck, and renting his own apartment.

Another response to the book came from Charles Platt, author and former senior editor at Wired Magazine, who took an entry-level job at a Wal-Mart store and recounted his experience on the blog Boing Boing. While his account reaffirmed some of Ehrenreich's experience, including the low pay and tedious nature of the job, Platt also reported positive experiences with supervisors, safety training incentives, and employee autonomy and treatment.[2]

Cover controversy[edit source]

The book's cover features a waitress, Kimmie Jo Christianson, giving a worried look over her shoulder. The photo of Christianson was taken in 1986 for an unrelated Fortune cover.[3] After the release of Nickel and Dimed, Christianson filed suit against the book's publishers, arguing that they used her picture without her consent.[3][4] In 2007, a judge ruled that the lawsuit could go ahead, because the cover was not part of Ehrenreich's narrative and was part of the publisher's selling of the book. The case was later dismissed as part of a settlement.[3]"

George Croix

Yes, good 'ol Warren Buffet must have had a good laugh over the wide-eyed acceptance of his little 'my poor secretary pays higher taxes' shtick. And our President, repeating it ad nauseum, also never bothered to let the details get in the way of a good suckering of his legions of fellow unicorn hunters.
Not liars. No. Not at all.
Just counting on the folks who can be counted on 99% + of the time to swallow the hook, line, and sinker. Even the little snap swivels, and usually the popping cork, too.
Why bother to think for yourself, when you've got a friendly agent of the government to do your thinking for you.
Wonder how long before Warren's ambassadorship is announced.[wink]

Welcome to the discussion.

Real Names required. No pseudonyms or partial names allowed. Stand behind what you post.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.