A Dallas public defender is facing federal charges after she allegedly struck up a relationship with one of her former clients and provided him with sensitive information about his brother’s case.
Ragan Sierra Moreno, 28, is accused of providing Todd Whitfield – an inmate at the Dallas County jail – with sensitive case information that he used to threaten one of his brother’s alleged victims, according to court documents obtained by WFAA.
She was booked into the county jail late last week on a charge of Abuse of Official Capacity, but has since been bonded out.
It is unclear if Moreno has hired another attorney to speak on her behalf, and whether she is still in the county’s employ.
But as of Monday night, Moreno was still listed as eligible to practice law in the state of Texas.
Moreno, who has only been employed by the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office for about eight months, was assigned to represent Whitfield in a misdemeanor vehicle burglary case, unidentified law enforcement sources told WFAA.
The two apparently fell in love and began a relationship, even though Whitfield would later be held in county jail for several probation violations.
His misdemeanor burglary case was dismissed, and Moreno was no longer representing him at the time she allegedly provided him the documents.
Detectives from the Dallas County Intelligence Office said in court documents they were alerted to the illicit relationship when they received a tip on September 9 about Moreno recently spending hours visiting him.
Investigators then found that Moreno and Whitfield had communicated several times, per his jail phone records, and Whitfield started calling Moreno using other inmates’ accounts to elude authorities, WFAA reports.
The content of these messages was deeply personal, detectives said, leading them to believe the two were in a relationship.
In one call on September 5, detectives said Whitfield called Moreno while she was driving into a covered parking lot next to the Frank Crowley Courts building – which is adjacent to the North Tower Detention Facility where he was being held.
During the conversation, Whitfield allegedly told Moreno to look for him in the jail – telling her that he would be waving a towel in front of his cell window.
Moreno then revealed she was there to “expose herself to him,” according to court documents, but couldn’t because a marked Dallas County Marshal vehicle was nearby.
By September 12, investigators said Whitfield called Moreno from jail and asked that she look up his brother’s criminal proceedings and prior case information.
According to the arrest documents, the lawyer then used her county-issued laptop to access restricted search engines to view criminal records and probable cause affidavits.
She allegedly revealed to Whitfield the initials of at least three complainants or victims involved in his brother’s assault case and various family violence cases dating back to 2020.
At one point, investigators say, the unidentified brother even joined in on the call as Whitfield and Moreno discussed the complainant in his pending assault involving serious bodily injury case.
Later that day, investigators said Whitfield sent messages to a victim in the pending case, saying he “doesn’t have much longer in jail” and that he “doesn’t care who[se] baby mama she is.”
In another message, he allegedly wrote: “I swear before Christ you haven’t met me, but you will and how you meet me depends all on you.”
If convicted, the harshest punishment Moreno may face is losing her license to practice law in the state of Texas.