A San Antonio-based communications company that holds a hard-won, multimillion-dollar contract with the city and Bexar County now is at the center of a federal corruption case in West Texas.
Federal prosecutors have charged former San Angelo Police Chief Timothy Ray Vasquez, 49, with taking $134,000 in bribes to help Dailey & Wells Communications win contracts for first responder radio systems in San Angelo worth more than $11 million.
Dailey & Wells of San Antonio and two of its affiliates made several payments to Vasquez and his wedding band, Funky Munky, after winning the contracts in 2007 and 2015, a Jan. 8 indictment alleges.
Two years ago, San Antonio City Council members awarded the same company a 15-year, $108 million contract to overhaul the city’s radio system for first responders, which also is in use by the Fire Department and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
The city hired Dailey & Wells to build the current radio system in 2004. The new system is expected to come online in December 2021.
Two company executives — CEO Richard Wells and Senior Vice President Joanne Wells — are prolific donors to local political candidates. They’ve given at least $164,000 to sitting city and county officials since 2014, campaign finance records show.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar: $45,000 Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff: $30,000 Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff: $30,000 Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Calvert,Jr.: $20,000 Precinct 1 Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez: $10,000 San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg: $6,000 Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales: $5,000 District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño: $2,000 District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia: $2,000 District 9 Councilman John Courage: $2,000 District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval: $1,500 District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran: $1,000 District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda: $1,000 District 8 Councilman Manny Peláez: $1,000 District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry: $1,000 District 7 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales: $500 Source: City of San Antonio, Bexar County
Campaign contributions from Dailey executives
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar: $45,000
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff: $30,000
Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff: $30,000
Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Calvert,Jr.: $20,000
Precinct 1 Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez: $10,000
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg: $6,000
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales: $5,000
District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño: $2,000
District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia: $2,000
District 9 Councilman John Courage: $2,000
District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval: $1,500
District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran: $1,000
District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda: $1,000
District 8 Councilman Manny Peláez: $1,000
District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry: $1,000
District 7 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales: $500
Source: City of San Antonio, Bexar County
Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff tried to distance themselves from the executives, pledging to give the donations they received from the Wells to nonprofits.
Dailey & Wells isn’t named in the indictment and none of its employees has been charged in the case. But San Angelo City Council documents show it holds the San Angelo contract. And state filings show the company’s affiliation with the entities that allegedly funneled funds to Vasquez and Funky Munky.
A company representative didn’t return a call requesting comment.
City Manager Erik Walsh took pains to reassure Nirenberg and council members this week that nothing is amiss with the company’s contract in San Antonio.
He reminded them it took three years for the city “to vet potential radio system vendors capable of either extending or replacing the current system” before council adopted the Dailey & Wells contract in 2018.
“Our due diligence did not surface any of the alleged irregularities reported in San Angelo or with any other business dealings of” Dailey & Wells, Walsh wrote in a memo sent Tuesday evening.
But Wolff said the city should review the terms of the Dailey & Wells contract — and see if there’s a way to get out of it.
“The city needs to take a real hard look,” Wolff said.
City officials are going over records “to make sure that there are no irregularities reported, not only in San Angelo but also in business dealings with Dailey-Wells here locally,” Nirenberg said.
“I think it’s absolutely vital that we do our due diligence to make sure nothing improper was done,” Nirenberg said.
District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran said she was open to re-examining the San Antonio contract. Viagran unsuccessfully tried to delay the February 2018 vote that gave Dailey & Wells the contract, arguing the council needed more time to consider the award.
“I think we should review it,” Viagran said. “I think we should go and see if there are any gaps.”
But no other council member seemed eager to revisit the contract after the exhaustive bidding process, barring a major development in the federal case.
“At this point, I don’t see anything wrong,” said District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry, who received $1,000 from the two Wells. “In this country, you’re innocent until proven guilty. Right now, those are just allegations, and we’ve got to let the process play out.”
Council members from every district except the East Side’s District 2 have received campaign contributions from Richard Wells and Joanne Wells, ranging from $500 to $2,000. Viagran received $1,000.
So has the mayor; Nirenberg has received $6,000 from the two company officials since March.
Nirenberg campaign consultant Kelton Morgan noted the mayor got the donations after the council voted to give the company the contract. Nirenberg was not present for the vote.
“There’s nothing that says that any of the money they gave to anyone was illegal money, was a bad contribution,” Morgan said.
Nonetheless, Nirenberg opted Wednesday to donate the funds to Family Violence Prevention Services, which runs the city’s battered women’s and children’s shelter, Morgan said.
And the mayor was quick to note he believes the city’s low campaign contribution limits prevent donors from improperly swaying candidates once they’re elected.
Right now, donors can give no more than $500 to council candidates and no more than $1,000 to mayoral candidates per election cycle.
“No one individual should be or can exert undue influence over our municipal campaigns,” Nirenberg said.
Richard Wells and Joanne Wells have given more than $140,000 to six sitting Bexar officials, including Wolff and Sheriff Javier Salazar.
Wolff received $30,000 from the two Wellses — two $10,000 donations in 2014 and one in 2017. He said he plans to donate the latest payment to at least one nonprofit.
Salazar received $45,000, the most of any official in Bexar County, but sidestepped questions about the donations.
“If the allegations against this former public official are true, I find that to be personally reprehensible, and he should absolutely be held criminally responsible for his actions,” Salazar said in a statement Wednesday.
Trish DeBerry, running to fill the seat held by Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff, who’s not seeking re-election, said she will reroute the $10,000 the two Wells donated to her campaign.
DeBerry, a public relations executive and former mayoral candidate, said she would send the money to David’s Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit that raises awareness of bullying and cyber abuse.
“I don’t want that kind of money,” DeBerry said. “The perception alone is bad.”
Federal prosecutors accuse Vasquez of soliciting bribes from Dailey & Wells — named in the indictment as “Vendor 1” — and trying to hide his behavior.
Dailey & Wells was one of three firms in 2007 that bid on a contract to build a new radio system for first responders in San Angelo. Before he backed Dailey & Wells to get the contract, Vasquez allegedly “solicited a vacation trip” from another bidder.
A committee that included the former police chief recommended in April 2007 that Dailey & Wells get the contract. Three months later, one of its subsidiaries, Juniper Valley, cut a $10,000 check to the “Funky Munky Band” — which Vasquez then allegedly deposited in his own bank account.
That September, Dailey & Wells entered into the $5.7 million contract. Two months later, Juniper Valley wrote another $8,000 check to Funky Munky. Vasquez deposited $4,400 into his personal bank account and took out $3,600 in cash, prosecutors allege.
Dailey & Wells and its subsidiaries allegedly paid Funky Munky $134,000 over the next nine years, the indictment says.
Sometimes, the company or one of its affiliates said it was paying the band to play at Christmas parties. Occasionally, they would write Vasquez’s name on the check. In at least one instance, an affiliate paid Vasquez in cash.
The company’s affiliates continued to pay Vasquez while he urged San Angelo officials, looking to phase out the company’s system in 2014, to keep Dailey & Wells for a new radio contract. Vasquez and San Angelo officials met with company officials during a July 2014 trip to San Antonio.
Vasquez discussed a way to exempt Dailey & Wells from a formal bidding process and hand it a new contract outright, the indictment states. It was unclear Wednesday whether that happened.
Nonetheless, San Angelo did give Dailey & Wells a new $5.7 million contract in June 2015.
Vasquez made his first court appearance Friday. He hasn’t entered a plea yet; he was released after posting a $50,000 bond.