Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon filed criminal charges against a man based on information from Shannon's wife, an attorney who represents the man's ex-wife in a divorce case, according to a court document filed Thursday.
The man's attorney is seeking to disqualify Shannon's office from prosecuting the case, claiming Shannon has a conflict of interest, used private information from the divorce case and has a financial stake in its outcome.
The case involves Mario Perez, an attorney who was indicted in April 2012 for tampering with a government document. Specifically, he was charged with hiding the source of political contributions to an Arlington school board candidate in 2009.
At the time, Perez worked for a law firm which had contracts with school districts to collect delinquent taxes.
Shannon declined to comment.
"We can't comment on pending litigation," said spokeswoman Melody McDonald.
Westfall claims the district attorney began its investigation of Perez "based on information communicated directly or indirectly to Joe Shannon Jr., the elected district attorney of Tarrant County, by Rebecca C. Lucas, his then-partner (and later his wife), who was at that very time an attorney representing Defendant's spouse in a divorce case."
Perez's ex-wife had hired a company to examine his computer. The district attorney then issued a grand jury subpoena for the company's records on July 18, 2011, the day before the final hearing in the divorce case, Westfall said.
The divorce case was settled but child custody has not been decided, Westfall said.
A hearing could be held in the next few weeks on the request to disqualify the district attorney's office in Perez's criminal case, Westfall said.
In a separate controversy just last month, Tarrant County released graphic details of a former prosecutor's claim that Shannon had sexually harassed her. The county paid the woman $375,000.
Shannon strongly denied the accusations and said he did not approve of the settlement.