DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A veteran Dallas police records clerk recently refused to answer questions under oath about her alleged involvement in an ambulance chasing scheme.
“On the advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer and assert my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” Margarita Monjaras repeated over and over during a videotaped deposition in a civil lawsuit.
Monjaras, 51, was sued in May by an Irving couple who accuse Monjaras of funneling details about their 2017 auto accident to a man allegedly paid to drum up business for a personal injury law firm.
Personal information on police accident reports is not supposed to be given to attorneys unless they are first hired by a crash victim. Barratry, better known as “ambulance chasing,” is illegal in Texas. State law prohibits any direct personal or telephone contact with victims until a month after an accident, although a solicitation letter is allowed.
Monjaras, who was hired in 1993, was placed on paid leave in March after attorney Tom Carse made his client’s claims known to the police department.
DPD’s investigation of Monjaras will be referred to a grand jury once it’s complete, a police spokesman told CBS 11 News this week. Barratry is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
In the civil case, Carse peppered Monjaras with questions about what transpired during alleged phone calls and texts in January 2017 between her and a man named Robert Guilhoux.
“Did Mr. Guilhoux pay you in cash for the information you provided?” Carse asked.
“How many other accident victims did you pass along to Mr. Guilhoux?”
“You used your position at the Dallas Police Department to access the crash report and look at it, didn’t you?”
Monjaras pleaded the Fifth Amendment 108 times during the 45-minute deposition.
Neither Monjaras, her attorney nor Guilhoux replied to CBS11’s requests for comment.
Contact Investigative Reporter Brian New at firstname.lastname@example.org and Investigative Producer Jason Sickles at email@example.com.