The City Council of Fair Oaks Ranch voted unanimously to waive its attorney/client privilege and release the investigation report conducted by a third-party independent investigator involving complaints within the Fair Oaks Ranch Police Department.
At the November 16, 2023 City Council meeting, the City Council of Fair Oaks Ranch voted unanimously to waive its attorney/client privilege and release the investigation report conducted by a third-party independent investigator involving complaints within the Fair Oaks Ranch Police Department. The Council and I believe it is important that we share with our residents the events that led to this investigation and the actions taken by the City as a result of its findings, which includes addressing the questions that many residents have had regarding this issue. In the end, I want to make certain to our residents that we maintain full confidence in our Police Chief and our Police Department, as they continue to ensure we remain one of the safest cities in the State of Texas.
On July 14, 2023, Fair Oaks Ranch Police Chief Tim Moring initiated an internal investigation based on a complaint he received regarding an alleged inappropriate ongoing sexual relationship between Police Officer Lacey Gonzalez and her supervisor, Police Sergeant Paul Zepeda.
On the same day the internal investigation began, July 14, 2023, Sergeant Zepeda and Officer Gonzalez submitted their resignations from the Fair Oaks Ranch Police Department. Within days, both officers requested to rescind their resignations and return to the Department. Lacey Gonzalez returned to her position, but Paul Zepeda’s request was denied by the City Manager, Scott Huizenga.
On July 28, 2023, the City of Fair Oak Ranch received an official complaint against Police Chief Tim Moring from Lacey Gonzalez. This 14-page complaint alleged misconduct and a hostile work environment.
The City of Fair Oaks Ranch received a second complaint from Paul Zepeda, on August 3, 2023, with allegations against Police Chief Tim Moring.
On August 7, 2023, through the City Attorney’s law firm, Denton, Navarro, Rocha, Bernal & Zech, the City hired an independent professionally licensed investigator, Jesse Prado, to conduct an investigation into the allegations made by Lacey Gonzalez and Paul Zepeda. Mr. Prado is the owner and manager of the State of Texas licensed investigation company named JPPI Investigations, LLC, and he has over 30 years of investigative experience with 21 of those years as a Detective in the Organized Crime Division of the Austin Police Department.
The City Manager notified Chief Moring on August 11, 2023, of the two complaints and in accordance with standard practices, the Police Chief was placed on paid administrative leave while the complaints were being investigated.
On August 14, 2023, the City Attorney’s law firm provided both complaints to Investigator Prado and requested an investigation into the allegations. Investigator Prado was not provided with any guidance or direction by the law firm on the allegations or how to conduct the investigation. Additionally, Investigator Prado did not contact any of the City’s leadership for guidance or direction on conducting the investigation.
Investigator Prado completed his investigation on September 27, 2023. Through his investigation, Investigator Prado individually addressed each of the 13 allegations made between the two complainants. In his report, he identified the witnesses that he spoke with, provided pertinent information related to each of the allegations and then made a finding on each allegation. Most of the allegations involved incidents that happened several years ago and some from before Chief Moring was the Police Chief.
From the complaints made by Lacey Gonzalez and Paul Zepeda, Investigator Prado determined that all the allegations made against Police Chief Moring were unfounded or not sustained. Investigator Prado made additional findings regarding the conduct of Lacey Gonzalez, including sustained findings of Dereliction of Duty and Untruthfulness. He also noted that if Paul Zepeda was still employed by the City, he would have made the same findings against him.
During the investigation, Investigator Prado determined, with concrete evidence, that former Police Sergeant Zepeda and former Police Officer Gonzalez had a six-year ongoing inappropriate sexual relationship. Investigator Prado’s determination from the investigation is that Paul Zepeda and Lacey Gonzalez submitted their complaints to distract attention away from themselves and conceal their inappropriate sexual relationship. The individuals who were targeted in the complaints from Lacey Gonzalez and Paul Zepeda were the people that had knowledge of their affair or were the people conducting the internal investigation into the alleged affair.
Lacey Gonzalez’s dismissal from the Police Department was due in part to her providing false statements as part of the investigation conducted by Investigator Prado. She was untruthful when questioned about her sexual relationship with Paul Zepeda. Additionally, it was determined during questioning by Investigator Prado that Lacey Gonzalez did not give all the facts and insinuated, without proof, information and allegations that were not credible.
This entire incident has resulted in unfortunate outcomes for several individuals. Lacey Gonzalez appeared to be an outstanding police officer in the Fair Oaks Ranch Police Department. She was recognized by the City Staff of Fair Oaks Ranch as the Employee of the Year. She did an exceptional job each year organizing and executing the Fair Oaks Ranch Police Department’s Junior Police Academy. It is truly disappointing to see the results of this investigation.
Under the leadership of Police Chief Tim Moring, the Fair Oaks Ranch Police Department has done an extraordinary job providing for the safety and security of our City’s residents. The City of Fair Oaks Ranch has been identified as one of the safest cities in Texas during his entire time as Police Chief. The Police Department has continued to conduct multiple community engagement programs to integrate law enforcement with our residents. We should always be proud and have absolute confidence in the actions of our Police Officers. I want to assure our residents that we maintain full trust in our Police Chief and our Police Department as they continue to protect our City and residents day-in and day-out.
I anticipate the full investigation report, with mandatory legal redactions, will be available and made public on Tuesday, November 21, 2023.