“I did not feel comfortable about backdating the affidavit,” Councilman Thompson wrote.
Affidavits obtained through a public records request to the City of Odessa have revealed an investigation into whether former City Manager Michael Marrero and former City Attorney Natasha Brooks illegally backdated sworn documents relating to a Conflict of Interest for Councilman Steve Thompson.
Odessa Headlines previously reported that Thompson failed to file a disclosure with the city secretary that state law requires to be filed before any action is taken by the council on an agenda item pertaining to the conflict.
During the December 8, 2020, council meeting, Thompson’s family-owned insurance business was awarded a six-figure insurance contract, a contract that has been awarded to the company. without being bid out by the city for nearly 30 years.
On December 9, Odessa Headlines requested the conflict disclosures from the city secretary, however, none existed at the time.
Several days later, the records request was fulfilled by conflict disclosures dated December 11, which still placed Thompson in violation of the law that requires the forms to be filed on December 8.
Then, Odessa Headlines was provided with a new conflict disclosure that was dated December 8, placing Thompson in compliance with the conflict-of-interest laws.
When City Attorney Natasha Brooks was asked about the new disclosures dated December 8, Brooks stated that a simple mistake had been made by a junior staff member and that Thompson had correctly filed the disclosure form.
Fast forward to 2023, Brook’s story is now being contradicted in sworn statements by three individuals, City Secretary Norma Grimaldo, city employee Naira Enriquez who is a notary public, and Thompson himself — indicating there was a plan to forge records into complying with the law.
In the affidavit by Grimaldo, she states that “On or about December 10, 2020, Natasha Brooks instructed me to file stamp December 8, 2020, on the Local Government Officer Conflicts Disclosure Statement, ‘Exhibit 1’, dated December 8, 2020.” Grimaldo then details how she processed a second disclosure form for Thompson on December 11, 2020.
A second affidavit filed by Enriquez states “On or about December 9, 2020, I was asked by Natasha to notarize a document for Councilman Thompson and to date said document December 8, 2020.”
Finally, an affidavit filed by Councilman Thompson on January 18, 2023, details how “On the afternoon of December 9, 2020, Natasha Brooks asked me to come to her office and sign an affidavit; I signed the conflict-of-interest affidavit that Natasha Brooks presented to me. She told me to date the affidavit on the 8th day of December 2020.”
Thompson further details how he had told “Michael Marrero on the morning of December 8, 2020, in his office, that my son, Marty, owned STA Benefits Insurance Consultants and that I did not have any interest in the business whatsoever since July 1, 2013.”
As previously reported by Odessa Headlines, State of Texas business records continued to show Steve Thompson as a principal in STA Benefits until approximately one year ago.
Thompson also states that he expressed concern about backdating the document but Brooks “indicated to me that since I had informed the City Manager that this was okay” and further states in his affidavit that “Natasha Brooks’ job was to keep me out of trouble as City Attorney.”
During the past two years, Thompson has reportedly given Brooks glowing employment reviews and was one of two votes against her termination, as well as the recent firing of Marrero.
Odessa Headlines requested comment from interim City Attorney Dan Jones regarding the affidavits, who declined to comment citing a pending criminal investigation.