Alt Media Journalist Broke a Story Before Local News, So She Was Arrested, Charged With Felonies

By Matt Agorist

Laredo, TX — If you report a story before the police department is scheduled to release it to local media, you can and will be arrested and charged with a felony. For those who seek proof that alternative media is under attack, one needn’t look any further than the case of Priscilla Villarreal.

Villarreal runs an alternative media platform out of Laredo and operates it on a news page on Facebook called LaGordiloca. Earlier this month, Villarreal was arrested and charged with two counts of “misuse of official information,” a third-degree felony for operating that page.

As Texas Monthly reports, Villarreal, 32, turned herself in to Laredo police on December 13 after being charged with two felony counts of “misuse of official information,” stemming from her reporting on a Border Patrol agent’s suicide last April. Villarreal denies that she did anything illegal, and her attorney says the police department is simply trying to silence her because it does not like the way she reports. She often swears while she narrates her live-streamed footage, and she sometimes captures graphic images. She has been known to verbally spar with police officers in public.

Villarreal did nothing illegal. She stole no secrets, was not some NSA whistleblower and the information she reported did not cause anyone harm nor place anyone in danger. Villarreal, who runs the Facebook page LaGordiloca—with nearly 84,000 fans—simply published the same information the police department published publicly—only before they did.

Yes, that is all she did and the police actually admit this is all she did.

“(Villarreal’s) access to this information and releasing it on ‘Lagordiloca News Laredo Tx’ before the official release by the Laredo Police Department Public Information Officer placed her ‘Facebook’ page ahead of the local official news media which in turn gained her popularity in ‘Facebook,’” states the criminal complaint filed against Villarreal.

The horror.

According to the Laredo Morning Times, the Laredo police department began investigating the case July 10, when its Office of Professional Standards received information stating that Goodman had been communicating with Villarreal, the affidavit states. The document says that some of the information published by Villarreal on her Facebook page was not available to anyone outside of law enforcement.

Investigators obtained subpoenas for Goodman’s and Villarreal’s phone records. Police said they discovered that the two “contacted each other on a regular basis and on specific dates that coincide with law enforcement activities,” according to the Times.

In what appears to be an extreme case of butthurt, the LPD seemingly became enraged at the fact that someone would beat them to a press release, so they acted. Villarreal, after receiving information, would go live on Facebook to report details of an incident that were not public at the time, the arrest affidavit states.

To reiterate, the police department would later release this exact information to the ‘official’ local media who would then report it. However, because Villarreal was first, she is now facing felony charges.

Naturally, Villarreal’s case is garnering the attention of those worried about the implications of First Amendment rights in her case, and it should. This independent journalist is the first person in the history of Webb County to be facing misuse of information charges, according to the paper.

Villarreal, who turned herself in voluntarily last Wednesday, says that the department is trying to silence her for criticizing its officers and beating the public relations department to the punch.

“All this is just a personal vendetta,” she told The Washington Post on Friday. “And I have all the proof I need to prove it.”

According to the Post, department spokesman Joe Baeza didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment early Friday. In comments to the Morning Times this week, he said: “We have no personal vendetta or ax to grind with anybody.”

However, if you look closely at the facts of the case, it becomes hard to believe Mr. Baeza.

As Reason noted, Texas law says a person can be guilty of misuse of official information if they solicit or receive information from a public servant, the official “has access to [that information] by means of his office or employment,” the info “has not been made public” yet, and the person receiving it does so “with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another” (emphasis mine). Villarreal was clearly not trying to harm or defraud anyone by publishing local news to LaGordiloca, so police must show that she did so “with intent to obtain a benefit” in order to make the misuse-of-information charge stick.

The “intent to obtain a benefit” part of the law is why the LPD is claiming Villarreal released the information to garner Facebook likes—a stretch, indeed—especially considering all the news she’s put out in the past.

“I strongly believe that censorship only hinders the advancement of a society,” writes Villarreal on a GoFundMe page she started since the arrest to pay for legal help. “I strongly believe in freedom of information and freedom of speech. I am in NO way a scholar of a higher learning institute but I am in my own way a graduate of the school of life most importantly the curriculum of what is right and what is wrong … I continue to be adamant that transparency in the political and law enforcement theater is the base for trust.”

Sergio Lozano, Villarreal’s attorney, says that he’s confident the state will be exposed as the aggressor in this case and noted, “We anxiously await for the case to go to court for her name to be cleared.”

In the land of the free, reporting on information before obtaining permission from armed agents of the State can result in your persecution and subsequent loss of freedom. Hopefully, for the sake of the freedom of the press, Villarreal’s case garners enough attention to expose the LPD as the tyrants they are and this face of modern media is allowed to walk free.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project, where this article first appearedFollow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Facebook.

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26 Comments on "Alt Media Journalist Broke a Story Before Local News, So She Was Arrested, Charged With Felonies"

  1. Of course the populace can’t be the checks and balance of our government agencies.Those agencies can’t lie, cheat, steal and murder , if one has a ckeck and balance system that – works for the populace, and those accused.

  2. Vlad TheSkewerer | December 24, 2017 at 5:08 am | Reply

    Soooooo, a blast to your self esteem is now considered the material benefit from a crime being committed. What exactly is the dollar value of a FB like?

    • lightingstrikesthrice | December 25, 2017 at 7:32 am | Reply

      It’s probably the LPD has a negative ‘likes’ rating on their page and they’re throwing a tantrum.

  3. Citizens have the right to know! Stop hiding things from us!

  4. I’d hate to meet her in a dark alley, but look on the brighter side: She eats very well.

  5. The benefit is pretty obvious: anytime a journalist or writer publishes something, that is a benefit to them,whether it is cash or merely attention or increased reputation or praise.

    That said, the police are very stupid by making of her a martyr. And as for freedom of the press, how about the President calling for firing journalists who criticize him!

  6. FranciscoCanales | December 24, 2017 at 11:48 am | Reply

    The Laredo Police Dept. is in violation of the free press laws and the people’s constitutional rights of free speech. The question is; is this ignorance of plain corruption to stop the people and the press from reporting the truth and inform the people of the truth.

  7. Should she be found guilty, then this law needs to Challenged in Federal Court as a violation of the the First Amendment I have never heard of such a stupid ignorant law.

    • if THEY (TPTB) win, it tells you that for all intents and purposes the first amendment is in need of a memorial for its grave, and the only way for her (Villarreal) to win is for people to wake up to that fact that it may be almost too late, and speak up!!!
      because precedent, once set in Laredo, will become judicial procedure / reality in Texas’ and all other states’ and supreme courts

  8. NO police state you say?? Look at the number of ” Conspiracy Theories ” proven to fact in 2017 alone??
    Boobus Americanus do wake up while you can.
    Find out the difference between LAW, Statutes, codes , and policy. You ARE asleep at the wheel!

    • They’re going to hit the wall before they wake up.
      Now I know why the fascination with zombies is so great.

    • First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Socialist.
      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Jew.
      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.– Martin Niemöller

  9. Should she be found guilty, the penalty must fit the so called crime. In this case it would be nothing!

  10. Dearest Founders: What where you thinking when you included a “legislative” branch in the mix?

    • Actually this is the executive branch misusing a law meant to prevent people from profiting off of private classified information that has yet to be released by a news outlet. They stretch and misread laws all the times and are never held to account. It is called “discretion.” The law is probably unconstitutional on its face but they way they used it is beyond what it was meant for in the first place and is a stretch.

      • lightingstrikesthrice | December 25, 2017 at 7:29 am | Reply

        Why does it have to be an ‘official’ news outlet in the first place? The way I see it is to be able to control the narrative and secrets be kept. Those/these same outlets are part of the system, the kakistocracy.

    • lightingstrikesthrice | December 25, 2017 at 7:27 am | Reply

      Because they were wealthy ‘American’ aristocracy and criminals in their own right. They only reason we got a constitution in the first place because the people rebelled at having their lands stolen by the same people who designed the constitution(in secret of course). It is referred to as Shay’s Rebellion. It was a kakistocracy then, it is a kakistocracy now, and will be a kakistocracy in the future.

      • Actually, Shays Rebellion was due to English businessmen no longer giving credit for purchases necessary to the local farmers in Mass., the English now wanted hard cash instead. This caused great hardship among the farmers since hard cash was not easy to come by. Additionally, ex-soldiers had not been paid by the Continental Congress.

        So the Rebellion had nothing to do with stealing of lands.

      • I wasn’t referring to those “Founders”… but I understand what you mean regarding those who penned the Constitution. I’m ready to go back to the Articles of Confederation with the Reset button, and try that for a while.

  11. Free Man (NOT) | December 24, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Reply

    Just another case of TPTB trying to cover their A$$es.
    Can’t let the “little people” know what is going on.
    I hope she sues them.

  12. Disseminating information on a public official or border officer? That is a matter of public concern. First Amendment anyone? Remember that? How blatant does it get? What a stupid interpretation of this law. The case will get tossed. Gestapos in Texas law enforcement…someone needs to lock them up. They are the criminals. It is a federal crime to knowingly violate someone rights under color of state law under 18 USC.

    • lightingstrikesthrice | December 25, 2017 at 7:24 am | Reply

      The Feds are criminals as well though. I believe that the only thing that may help her if is the MSM grows a pair and gets a little anxious that it may be them the next time and they keep the story afloat.

      • Agreed. Although I am not holding my breath that they grow a pair.

      • the problem is that the “fake news” MSM is too hung up on their false reports and officially-sanctioned stories, and would be happy to see the ALT- and independents go belly up, in fact they probably wouldn’t even realise that the 1st is no more, because they only report as they are told to / allowed to, anyway

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