Army veterans enrolled in a Park University class taught by attorney Roger Rodriguez at Fort Bliss say he promised as a judge he could help them get government jobs when they joined a group he started called the “Combined Veterans Association.”
“I waited two years for him to get me a job,” David Poche, an Army veteran, told KTEP News. “And, I said ‘this guy is a liar’ so, I never got no job with him.”
KTEP News spoke to half a dozen veterans who attended meetings held by Rodriguez on the patio of a coffee shop in West El Paso. Members of the group say Rodriguez pressured them to recruit more members. Some allege he also collected fees in cash for legal services he did not perform. One of those clients says he harassed and threatened her.
The accusations are the latest involving Rodriguez, a traffic court judge for the Village of Vinton, and raise new questions about his role as a “legal advisor” for former District Attorney Yvonne Rosales.
Rodriguez recruited students with military backgrounds enrolled in a Homeland Security course to join his organization according to members who attended his meetings off post.
“He targets soldiers that just came back from deployment,” Leilani Hart, a retired Army medic said. “Because those soldiers already have full pockets of non-taxed pay during deployment. So, he would lure them over and push them to recruit some more.”
On a recording provided to KTEP News by one of the veterans of a meeting in 2019, Rodrigez tells the group, “If you want the jobs, they’re there and the recommendations are there. If you want a tie-in with the secret service, I’ll give you my recommendation.”
The veterans association was never registered as a nonprofit organization and has now disbanded.
Park University confirmed Rodriguez is an adjunct professor in “good standing” but is not teaching this semester.
“Park University is aware of two student complaints made in 2022 against Roger Rodriguez, neither of which pertain to University matters and his performance as a Park instructor,” according to an emailed response to questions.
Most members of the group who spoke with KTEP News did not want their names made public because they say they fear retaliation from Rodriguez.
Several said Rodriguez had a quota for each person to recruit 30 new members because veterans who joined left after a few meetings.
“There were folks that would come in and in a short amount of time, they’d realize ‘this guy is bogus.” Hart said.
Some veterans stayed hoping Rodriguez would deliver on his promises, including Poche.
“He promised us a police badge,” he said. “That’s the way he keeps the people in the group. Everybody was supposed to get a badge.”
Six veterans told KTEP Rodriguez promised to give them a badge that would allow them to work as security guards. At least three were “sworn-in” and given an ID with the title Bailiff, Village of Vinton seal, an expiration date of July 2021 and Rodriguez’s signature.
The cards were not valid.