Federal charges have been filed against a public defender in Dallas who reportedly had an affair with a former client and shared confidential information about his brother’s case.
Ragan Sierra Moreno, 28, is suspected of passing critical case material to Dallas County jail inmate Todd Whitfield, who allegedly threatened one of his brother’s alleged victims.
She was arrested for official misconduct late last week and subsequently bonded out of county jail.
Whether or not Moreno is still employed by the county and whether or not she has retained an attorney to speak on her behalf remain unknown. Moreno was still on the Texas bar’s roster as active as of Monday night.
Moreno, who has only worked for the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office for about eight months, had been assigned to represent Whitfield in a minor vehicle burglary case. Despite Whitfield’s future incarceration for multiple probation violations, the two supposedly fell in love and began dating.
The lawyer no longer represented him when she reportedly provided him with the documents; the case against him for misdemeanor burglary had already been dismissed.
According to court filings, Dallas County Intelligence Office detectives learned of the affair on September 9 after receiving information that Moreno had spent hours visiting him.
Jail phone records revealed that Moreno and Whitfield had spoken on multiple occasions, after which Whitfield began phoning Moreno from other inmates’ phones to evade capture.
Detectives say the intimate nature of the messages suggests the two are romantically involved.
On September 5, detectives say Whitfield contacted Moreno as she pulled into the covered parking lot next to where he was being detained.
When asked where he could be found, Whitfield allegedly told Moreno that he would be waving a towel outside his jail cell window.
According to court records, Moreno then said she had planned to “expose herself to him” but was prevented by the presence of a marked Dallas County Marshal car.
By September 12, according to authorities, Whitfield had called Moreno from behind bars to beg her to research his brother’s criminal history.
According to the arrest report, the lawyer then utilized the county-issued laptop to look up criminal records and probable cause affidavits on a restricted search engine.
If found guilty, the worst punishment Moreno might face is the loss of her Texas legal license.