Friday, June 20, 2008

Was Rockwall DA's fall from grace a singular failing or part of a pattern?

The resignation sent from a jail cell by former 2001 Texas "Prosecutor of the Year," Rockwall County DA Ray Sumrow, ends another sad saga of corruption by an elected official and leads me to reflect on how many recent high-level law enforcement types we've seen get into trouble recently:
And those are just the highest profile examples that come immediately to mind; I may be missing some. Four other elected sheriffs in South Texas have gone to prison in recent years according to one news report.

There's no telling how far the commissary related corruption goes. Another Sheriff from Kleberg (Kingsville) awarded the company accused of bribing the Bexar Sheriff a contract during his final weeks in office then allegedly accepted a consulting contract with them when he was a private citizen.

And that's leaving aside a slew of corruption cases involving lower level officers. Among the most brazen: Four deputies in Tyler including the chief deputy over the low-risk portion of the jail were arrested this spring for allegedly using trustees to collect scrap metal and pocketing the profits. The special agent in charge of the FBI's El Paso bureau from 2001 to 2003 was indicted for corruption in 2006, but I can find no record of how that case came out.

This pattern brings to mind the opening lines to the old Buffalo Springfield tune, "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear." Perhaps the rate of high-level corruption and misconduct cropping up is routine and I've merely noticed it more because I'm tracking it on the blog. Perhaps it's because enforcement improved, so we're seeing more cases. Maybe the rash of incidents is purely anomalous? Or perhaps it portends some larger societal trend toward corruption that that's only barely beginning to become fully visible. Who can say? What do you think?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

And this surprises anyone --

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.......remind anyone of Mexico?

Anonymous said...

I have a bumper sticker on my office bulletin board that reads: "Power Corrupts - Isn't that what it's for." I'm not certain this is an outbreak of corrupt officials now as their is a history of this stuff in South Texas amongst law enforcement and other elected officials. Always been that way and will probably will continue since many places in South Texas (San Antone to the south)are little more than third world, politically.

Plato

doran williams said...

It is impossible not to notice that this epidemic of law enforcement corruption took place during the Bush Administration, possibly the most corrupt administration in American history. So, it is not so much that it "portends some larger societal trend toward corruption that that's only barely beginning to become fully visible," as it is simply a manifestation of a trend started in 2001.

On the other hand (snark alert) the behavior of the Kleberg County Sheriff you mentioned is no more bribery or corruption than it is for a State Legislator to shepherd through the Lege a piece of legislation favorable to a particular company, individual, or industry, or to vote for the legislation, and then take a job with that favored constituent.

Anonymous said...

And who is to say that this limits itself to law enforcement and low level city mangers. I find it *amazing* that Haliburton has not been fingered in any corruption investigations, yet they have been awarded so many 'no bid' contracts under the Bush / Cheney whitehouse, Yet Mr. Cheney has such hard ties back to that company. Would you believe a sacred pact between the office of the president and private corporations could exist? We may never know....

Families & Friends of Texas Inmates said...

It does not surprise me in the least, what alarms me is that it is becoming more and more prevalent. Here is what I found on the former FBI agent mentioned in your post.

United States v. Hardrick Crawford, Jr.

While serving as the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s El Paso Division, Hardrick Crawford, Jr. accepted substantial gifts from a Mexican racetrack owner and sometime FBI informant. In addition, Crawford did not disclose the gifts on his public financial disclosure report (SF 278).

In August 2006 a Federal jury found Crawford guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. § 1001, making false statements on his public financial disclosure report for calendar year 2002 and concealing material facts from the FBI regarding his association with the racetrack owner. In January 2007 Crawford was sentenced to six months in prison, a $10,000 fine, and three years supervised release during which time he must complete 200 hours of community service.

The Western District of Texas handled the prosecution.

The United States Office of Government Ethics released a report in 2007 that shows many such cases involving Government agents, employees and other officials.

I also found that Crawford was to serve his sentence at a federal
prison in Lewisburg, Pa., a high security prison with an adjacent
minimum security prison camp.

The link tot he report is: http://www.usoge.gov/pages/laws_regs_fedreg_stats/lrfs_files/othr_gdnc/pros_srvy_06.html

Anonymous said...

GRITS,
You fail to mention Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed who was not PROSECUTED for purchasing STOLEN airlines passesfrom a Bexar County Sheriff's deputy bailiff out of County Court #7. Those passes were clearly marked "NOT FOR SALE". D.A. Reed stated, "I didn't know that they were stolen property." I guess ignorance is an excuse if your the D.A. Why would she be allowed to continue to be the ENFORCER of Texas Laws in Bexar County if she id this????????Why aren't the Texas Rangers investigating her profiting in this venture.

Anonymous said...

You haven't seen anything yet. If Obama is elected president, I predict corruption on an all time high. Remember, the DemocRATS are the majority in Congress. You will have no one else to blame!!! I'll bet that some of will try to blame BUSH though.

Anonymous said...

Grits...You forgot to mention Borger Tx's DA Rick Roach!

"Roach, who was arrested on four federal drug and weapons charges, resigned the same day he pleaded guilty to a drug-related weapons charge in February.*

Roach was indicted on state charges of possession of methamphetamines and cocaine with intent to deliver.

Information from the Borger News-Herald,http://www.borgernewsherald.com

Anonymous said...

07:28 - Rick Roach was prosecuted and was in prison last I heard. He was not the DA in Borger but served in Gray County (Pampa) Hemphill (Canadian), Lipscomb and whatever conty Miami is in. As a matter of fact, he lived in Miami. Knew him from a long time back. He won because of straight-party voting Republicans who knew his package before electing him. The campaign featured many of his negatives as a lawyer befoe said election.

Plato