Progreso ex-cop gets $30K bond, faces 30 years to life

Matthew Sepulveda 24, is arraigned by Justice of the Peace Jason Peña at the Hidalgo County Jail on Wednesday July, 10, 2019 in Edinburg. Photo by Delcia Lopez | The Monitor

A former Progreso police officer charged with violating the civil rights of two people in his custody was set to be released on a $30,000 bond after going before a federal magistrate judge last Thursday afternoon.

Matthew Lee Sepulveda, 24, is accused of sexually assaulting the two people after taking them into custody during traffic stops this summer.

The first alleged sexual assault occurred on June 28, when Sepulveda took a 20-year-old man into custody and threatened the man would be deported and that “he had to do something” for Sepulveda.

Sepulveda allegedly led the man from a jail cell to a police squad room, where he performed oral sex on the man. A short time later, Sepulveda released the man into the custody of his parents, who had been waiting in the police department lobby.

The man and his family reported the alleged sexual assault to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office just hours later.

A second victim was identified by sheriff’s investigators as they combed through evidence related to the 20-year-old man’s allegations.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Crier in July, Sepulveda took two 17-year-old twin brothers into custody after a traffic stop on July 1. Sepulveda allegedly separated the brothers, escorting one of them from the cell to a separate room where he allegedly performed oral sex on the teen.

When Sepulveda later asked the second teen if he “would be willing to do the same thing,” the teen said no and was escorted back to the cell.

Sepulveda was arrested by federal agents on Oct. 18 and remained in federal lockup pending Thursday’s bond and detention hearing.

Though federal prosecutors requested a $75,000 bond, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby ultimately set bond at $30,000 after Sepulveda noted he had no money left after paying the bond amounts in a spate of separate state charges related to the alleged sexual assaults.

Ormsby also set several conditions for Sepulveda’s release, including that he must wear a GPS monitor, he must seek work or the furtherance of his education, he must hand in his passport, and he cannot travel outside the Southern District of Texas.

He also ordered Sepulveda to “participate in a program of specialized treatment” and that he have no contact with witnesses.

Prosecutors further recommended Sepulveda not seek employment with children, since one of the alleged victims is a minor.

Should he be found guilty of the federal charges, Sepulveda faces 30 years to life in federal prison.

Charges of sexual assault, official oppression and violating the civil rights of a person in custody remain pending against him in state district court, as well.

Staff writer Francisco Jimenez contributed to this report.