Two arrested in misconduct investigation into Denton County Tax Office

Two people were arrested on bribery charges last month in connection with a misconduct investigation into the Denton County Tax Office.

Former tax office employee Tramanski Johnson, who worked at the Lewisville branch, was booked into Denton County Jail on Sept. 12 after turning himself in on the bribery charge, police said. Juana Caballero, a notary public who allegedly notarized forged documents, was booked on the bribery charge Sept. 11.

The Denton County Sheriff's Office investigated the case. The affidavit in support of the suspects' arrest outlines a complex scheme involving bribes to process fraudulent vehicle title transfers.

The tax office collects property taxes, renews vehicle registrations and contracts with several car dealerships to issue titles on new vehicles. The office has six locations within the county, including Lewisville, Cross Roads, Frisco and Flower Mound. The main Denton office is at 1505 E. McKinney St.
County Tax Assessor/Collector Michelle French, who heads the office, declined to comment on specifics of the case.

"I'm not going to comment on any details just because it's still a pending case," French said.

A sheriff's office investigator first learned about allegations of a county employee accepting bribes to process known fraudulent title transfers on July 31, according to the affidavit. 

Johnson was identified as the employee, and the investigator reached out to him Aug. 2, the document stated. 

Johnson, the affidavit said, admitted that he accepted about 80 cash bribes from Caballero, who also goes by the last name Munoz , to process the fraudulent title transfers. 

Johnson said he was paid $100 per transaction. 

The affidavit also did not specify who Caballero works for, only that she signed and notarized "several documents as an authorized agent for other dealerships," the affidavit said.

No car dealerships were identified in the affidavit. 

Later in the day on Aug. 2, investigators contacted Caballero at AA Auto Sales in the 1000 block of Texas Street in Lewisville. 

Although police said she was a "common link" in the fraudulent transactions, she denied ever giving Johnson paperwork to process. She also said she paid "what she needed to," but the document did not elaborate on what she meant. 

Later in their investigation, police identified at least two title documents, notarized by Caballero, that contained forged signatures, according to the affidavit. 

Police obtained arrest warrants for both suspects on Sept. 11. 

French said Johnson, a Dallas resident, was hired at the tax office in 2010. She said he took another job for about two years before returning. 

Johnson was placed on administrative leave Aug. 2 and submitted a letter of resignation on Aug. 3, according to documents obtained through an open records request. 

He most recently worked as an office supervisor, according to the resignation letter. 

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the amount of money involved in the bribery scheme. The affidavit stated the suspect accepted about 80 cash bribes of $100. 

Original Article: http://www.dentonrc.com/news/news/2017/10/19/two-arrested-misconduct-investigation-denton-county-tax-office