Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bexar bribery allegations over jail commissary widen to other counties

The bribery scandal that took down the Bexar County Sheriff may be just the beginning.

Other shoes have begun to drop as reporters and investigators track other Texas counties where a Louisana company that allegedly bribed Bexar County officials won contracts to run jail commissaries. In Kleberg County (Kingsville), reported the SA Express News' Todd Bensman ("Premier's benefits didn't stop in Bexar,") former Kleberg Sheriff Tony Gonzales
approved giving Premier a food commissary contract for his jail during his final weeks in office. At some point either before or after Gonzalez left office in late 2004, he accepted private consulting work from Premier's owners, he and a company official acknowledged.
Gonzales also made the original connections that helped Premier get a commissary contract in Nueces County (Corpus Christi), where
one associate of former Sheriff Larry Olivarez, another Lopez friend, reaped rewards after helping Premier win a jail commissary contract there in 2005.

The associate, a commercial real estate broker who was appointed by the sheriff to an ad hoc committee that awarded the contract, later earned a commission from the sale of 56 acres where LCS Corrections Services Inc., another company owned in part by Premier's principals, is building a private detention center, the Express-News has learned.

In addition, the former sheriff's chief deputy won political backing from LCS when he ran as a candidate to replace Olivarez, who had stepped down to run for county judge.

Premier, which has come up repeatedly in an ongoing public corruption investigation in Bexar County for doing favors for influential people in a position to help the company, has denied any wrongdoing.
The Texas Rangers are investigating the connections and meanwhile, just to add to the irony, Premier's co-owner Patrick LeBlanc announced his candidacy for the Louisiana state legislature last week on an anti-corruption platform.

Once again I find myself as interested in the pattern of prosecution as the alleged crimes themselves. Search warrants were executed at high-profile pols' homes in San Antonio, but NOT at the offices of the company alleged to have bribed them.

Why, if DA Susan Reed had enough evidence to charge alleged RECIPIENTS of bribes, hasn't the company or any of its employees also faced indictment?


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