McALLEN - Former McAllen Mayor Leo Montalvo begged officers to let him go and tried to use his political legacy to avoid a drunken driving arrest Sunday, according to police records.
Montalvo, who famously was the city's first Hispanic mayor, urged officers not to ruin his reputation after a Sunday evening car crash along the 800 block of S. Ware Road, the records state.
"Do you know who I am?" he asked police according to the records. "Please sir, don't ruin my several years of public service."
Montalvo apparently crashed with a vehicle carrying a mother and some of her children just before 5 p.m. as he was returning from a day spent golfing, according to police. No one was seriously injured, said Sgt. Joel Morales, a McAllen police spokesman.
Police have declined to place blame for the crash and have released few other details, saying the case remains under investigation.
When police responded to the scene they found Montalvo standing alongside his Toyota 4-Runner, with bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol on his breath, according to records. Police said he slurred his words as he told officers that neither he nor the passengers of the other vehicle were hurt, according to the report.
"It's only a little bump, they are OK," he said.
A person who answered the phone at the Montalvo home Monday night said that he had no comment.
But in 2001, when his son was arrested for driving while intoxicated, then-Mayor Montalvo said nobody was above the law.
"The enforcement of such laws must be carried out regardless of who is involved," he said at the time.
According to police, Montalvo said he drank "like one or two beers" while golfing earlier Sunday. Several officers smelled alcohol on Montalvo's breath. He once even asked officers to call the chief of police, which they refused to do. When police told him he was being arrested, he made one final plea, the records state.
"Sir, please, it was just a little bump and you are treating me like a criminal," Montalvo allegedly told police according to the records. "Please let me go."
Police arrested Montalvo and charged him with driving while intoxicated. He refused to take a Breathalyzer, said McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez.
Montalvo faces up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted. For refusing to take a Breathalyzer test, he could also have his driver's license suspended. He was released Sunday night on a personal recognizance bond of $5,000.
When Montalvo narrowly defeated controversial and long-time incumbent Othal Brand in 1997 by just 144 votes, his victory was championed as the symbolic end of old guard's political power. Montalvo was the first Hispanic mayor since the city was incorporated in 1911, an accomplishment Montalvo downplayed at the time.
While critics said Montalvo coasted on the Brand administration's momentum during his eight-year reign, supporters say Montalvo was a decisive and important McAllen mayor.
During his tenure, from 1997 to 2005, the city expanded by 12 percent geographically and by more than 22 percent in population. Montalvo doubled spending on public safety and culture and recreation and more than tripled spending on highways and streets. The city had no outstanding debt when he left office.
After deciding not to seek reelection in 2005, Montalvo worked for Mayor Richard Cortez's election campaign.
But while in office, his son Michael Montalvo faced trouble with the law.
In May 2001, Michael Montalvo was indicted on charges of driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest.
And on June 7, 2001, he was indicted on charges of assaulting a public servant - eight years to the day before his father's arrest.
Michael Montalvo's DWI and assault charges have been dismissed.