Saturday, February 28, 2009

Questions regarding a completely corrupt jail

According to just-handed down indictments, the jail in Montague County under just-ousted Sheriff Bill Keating was completely corrupt, reports AP:
A former sheriff and several ex-jailers were among 17 people named Friday in a 106-count indictment on charges ranging from having sex with inmates to bringing them drugs at a now-closed county jail.

Former Montague County Sheriff Bill Keating was charged with official oppression and having sex with inmates, according to the indictment. Keating was defeated in a primary election last spring.

Several female jailers were charged with having sex with inmates and bringing them drugs, cell phones and cigarettes, while several male jailers were charged with drug possession and with bringing inmates banned items, according to the indictment.

Several inmates also were charged with drug possession, according to the indictment.

State District Judge Roger Towery has sealed the names in the indictments until the suspects are arrested, but their jobs and charges were made public.

Insanity ... pure insanity. Though it's a county lockup instead of a state agency, this episode seems as scandalous, or at least more endemic, than what was going on at TYC. Several questions arise:

Were there no non-corrupt employees to rat out all these alleged wrongdoers? How about the local District Attorney and other law enforcement agencies in the county? How could somebody not have known? Why did it take the feds coming in for somebody to investigate?

The Sheriff was allowed to finish out his term and was arrested immediately when his successor took office. If things were this bad, why was the situation tolerated by officialdom until then?

Though the Montague jail failed its last Jail Standards Commission inspection, state inspectors had no authority to fix the problem. Given that the agency is under "Sunset" review, doesn't this tell us the Texas Commission on Jail Standards needs more teeth and greater overt regulatory authority?

Many other law enforcement agencies around the state have experienced problems with corruption. Would these issues have been exposed sooner if Texas had a law enforcement integrity unit?

Finally, the DA has only charged Sheriff Keating with "official oppression and having sex with inmates," but not "sexual assault." Why not? After all, he coerced an informant into performing oral sex, according to the US Attorney, who said in a press release that,

Keating told L.M. that if she complied with his request, that he would help her get a job, a place to live and that she wouldn’t be criminally charged with possessing any drugs or drug-making equipment that was found in the home. Keating also told her that if she didn’t comply, she would go straight to jail.
So, where's the sexual assault charge? By definition under Texas law, a sexual assault has occurred if "the actor is a public servant who coerces the other person to submit or participate." How is it that someone who's engaged in such behavior doesn't wind up on the sex offender registry?

What an astonishing nest of sleaze and corruption - more remarkable, still, because the Sheriff was allowed to complete his term before rooting it out.

37 comments:

Doran Williams said...

There undoubtedly was/is a great deal of rotten wood in the prosecutor's office, and elsewhere, that hasn't come to public light. It is impossible, impossible, for this kind of corruption to have been going on without it being known around town and around the courthouse.

A question you did not raise is "What the hell were these people thinking?" Or, more to the point, "Why did they think they could get away with it?"

The Sheriff and his crew were either total dumbasses on a par with retarded adolescent perps (which seems unlikely), or they thought they had enough political and/or other kinds of official cover that protected them.

I think it likely that the US Attorney for that area may be heard from in the future. If the corruption extends to the DA and maybe to judges and County Commissioners, the feds will be involved. We hope.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Charles says:

"This is the law!" Have you ever heard an officer of the law use that or a similar statement when speaking of him/herself? A mentality grows within certain personality types in which law enforcment officials begin to identify themselves with the law. If they are the law, whatever they do is legal, legit, okay, moral. If the top gun in an agency has that mind set, inevitably it will trickle down throughout the agency. Unfortunately, sometimes the townspeople buy in until some brave soul speaks up. Where were the preacher/prophets who must have had an inkling this was going on? Were they too afraid of their jobs to speak up.

Although the fact that the sheriff was defeanted in a primary says somebody knew something was rotten in Montague County.

Anonymous said...

"Though the Montague jail failed its last Jail Standards Commission inspection, state inspectors had no authority to fix the problem."

TCJS does have some accountability here and apparently there is no call for it.

Tell me if I'm wrong, but the commission had the authority by remedial order to declare that the facility in question or any portion thereof be closed, that further confinement of inmates or classifications of inmates in the noncomplying facility or any portion thereof be prohibited, that all or any number of the inmates then confined be transferred to and maintained in another designated facility, or any combination of such remedies.

If a remedial order is issued, the commission shall furnish the sheriff/operator with a list of qualified facilities to which the inmates may be transferred. The sheriff/operator of the facility shall immediately transfer the number of inmates necessary to bring the facility into compliance to a facility that agrees to accept the inmates. The agreement shall be in writing and shall be signed by the sheriff/operator transferring the inmates and the sheriff/operator receiving the inmates. A facility transferring inmates under this subsection shall immediately remove the inmates from the receiving facility if the sheriff/operator of the receiving facility requests their removal in writing. The owner responsible for the noncomplying facility shall bear the liability for and the cost of transportation and maintenance of inmates transferred to or from a noncomplying facility by order of the commission. The costs of transportation and maintenance shall be determined by agreement between the participating jurisdictions and shall be paid into the treasury of the entity providing transportation and/or maintenance.

Reference is Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 297, Rule 297.8

Anonymous said...

Get use to if folks. Look who is the US Attorney now. The corrupt of the corrupt. Deals will be turned for favors!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:55 ---

Of whom do you speak?

KTF said...

I would imagine they are far from done with the former sheriff and his crew. as someone who survived the TYC scandal and now works in law enforcement I dont think the end is near in this montague county mess. now as far as a state intregrety unit. it will not ever happen in a manner that will work look at TYC when they started with there reporting and trying to investigate all allegations they got so behind that many of the investigations are not concluded after some of the youth are released. I have been gone since 2007 and still get calls about things that they are looking into. It is way to big in scope to investigate every complaint at a state level. someone needs to come up with a better idea.

Anonymous said...

Those folks don't want a larger level to look into it. Just like the TYC scandal, it will be limited, forced under the rugs and go away after four or five years. Top people in gov't know how to cover up, especially Texas officials. There are too many skeletons in the top dogs closets to bring anyone to justice.

Anonymous said...

I live in Montague County, I think this will all be swept under the rug as soon as the dust settles. I wrote to the FBI, and ACLU in 2006 over a dispute with Jim Wright, Deputy Sheriff. His manner was very beligerant, he talked to me like I was nothing. I did receive a letter from the FBI stating that they could not get involved in such matters. I wondered then just what my tax dollars were going for. Its sad when the cops and the judical system are more criminal than the criminals.

Stevens said...

Apparently the women jailers are being charged, but not Keating?

TxBluesMan said...

Just off of what little I know of Montague County, 17 people is probably the entire jail staff for that county...

They obviously knew of some sort of problem - there were 4 challengers in the election, and as was noted, he was defeated in the primary. It was my understanding that the good ole boy club knew that Keating was, as Doran stated, a "total dumbass" and that they wanted a new sheriff. I was under the impression that they didn't have a clue about the illegal activity of the idiot.

Doran, as usual, you jump to a conclusion based on your biases, not facts...

Why don't we see what comes out of it - I have a feeling that it isn't over yet.

Anonymous said...

"Why don't we see what comes out of it - I have a feeling that it isn't over yet."

Yes Blues Man, and not just the criminal action. Just wait to see the civil litigation that's going to follow.

Open up your checkbook Montague County, now it's just a matter of how many zeros to write in.

Anonymous said...

Good jailers, if any snitching on the corrupt jailers? Grits - I though you were violently opposed to snitch testimony.

x4livin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
x4livin said...

OK, first off, Keeting was not arrested until a couple of thursdays ago when he turned himself in a wichita falls. Second, the reason there was not someone to snitch...is that they haven't taken that whole courthouse and dumped the whole thing out and arrested them all...they all knew..know..no one wanted to be accountable for their own misconduct. It is still there in every manor they see fit to have it. It will continue. The new sheriff and his new staff have the best opportunity out of the whole lot of montague county employees/appointees to not be crooked because the rest already are. If they do not clean house now, they will corrupt the new folks too. I live here..it always has been, it always will be. They protect their own. It's like a freakin' gestapo. You just cant know until you've experienced it..truth is stranger than fiction here...for as long as I can remember.

x4livin said...

"Why don't we see what comes out of it - I have a feeling that it isn't over yet."

Yes Blues Man, and not just the criminal action. Just wait to see the civil litigation that's going to follow.

Open up your checkbook Montague County, now it's just a matter of how many zeros to write in.



Nope...we were told that the statute of limitations on assault(having their dog chew up a detainee who was in cuffs laying on the ground) was 2 years..and that we were "shit out of luck" on anything civil after 2 years too. They put him in the pen after he got out of the hosp for the dog chewing him up..for how long? just long enough to run that statute of limitations out. They still refuse to provide the records for it in the open record act and they threaten anyone who asks for it by telling them that THEIR statute of limitations to file more charges isn't up till THREE years. yup...corrupt to the core..the police records on this case are being "stored" in the county attorneys office..not DA...they are hiding anything they can in any nook and cranny they can hide it in..they are all corrupt. This wont fix anything and when it's all blown over..the retaliation from the folks over there will be hell.

doran williams said...

Tx, I didn't jump to any conclusions on the basis of my "biases" (of which I have but few), but on the basis of my approximately 35 years of living in a rural area and practicing law in a couple of counties very similar to Montague in population, political outlook, and ol' boy cronyism at the courthouses.

Actually, it seems to be you who have let biases get in the way of experiental facts. Or, maybe you haven't those same kind of experiences which would lead you to conclusions similar to mine.

In either event, to paraphrase Clint Eastwood in "Unforgiven," --- biases don't have nothin to do with it. Look at what the local guys are telling you in this thread.

Anonymous said...

Grits.........

Any comment on the 8:47 post?

TxBluesMan said...

I'm sort of curious too.

Why are 'snitches' generally bad, unless they are 'snitching' on cops?

Isn't that a double standard?

Not that I have any vested interest in it... Or that I ever try to use a person's words against them... Or, LOL, nevermind....

doran williams said...

Grits can watch out for himself, but for me, the comments of Tx about snitches is off the point and indicative of sloppy thinking.

A person who reports a violation of law by a public official, including law enforcement is not, IMHO, a snitch. He or she is or may be a citizen just reporting criminal activities to the authorities, as L.E. is always and forever exhorting us to do.

It takes more than just reporting criminal activity to be a snitch, as I understand the term. A "snitch" is someone working for the cops, either for pay, for favors, or both. Sometimes the "snitch" does double duty a an agenct provocatuer.

What is your understanding, Tx, of what a "snitch" is?

TxBluesMan said...

LOL at Doran.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald that the refusal to report crime is a cowards way out (see his OpEd - I don't have the link, but if you Google his name, snitch, and coward, it will come up).

I just think that Grits is splitting hairs, as are you.

I would wager that both the FBI and the DA are willing to offer some sort of deals to persons that are involved in order to get testimony against the ones that they really want, which makes those individuals snitches.

If it is OK to use snitches against officers, it should be OK to use snitches period.

You can't have it both ways.

And for the record, if the alleged offenses are proven, those that broke the public trust should get the max - in both the Federal and Texas system, to be served consecutively...

TxBluesMan said...

BTW Doran, you ought to come by my place - I have a couple of posts that I think you would like (either to argue about or at least make fun of me...)

doran williams said...

Tx, you are missing the point that Grits has been trying to make: That snitches all too often lie to cops about the crimnal conduct of others, or they actually create the conditions for crime to be committed by others. And they do this to save their own asses, which is not all that unreasonable, I guess, when dealing with the police state. The problem is not in reporting crime, whether by snitches or just plain joe blo citizens. The problem is the all too often unthinking, unregulated, unquestioned use by L.E. of snitches of dubious veracity to make cases.

As for dropping by your place, I will if I can find the time. Right now, I'm busy hauling horse shit for my gardens, harvesting winter crops and canning/freezing them, planting spring crops, chipping branches from spring pruning, petting my three orange male tabby cats, and watching the gold fish jump around in my pond.

I'm also doing some outa site cooking.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Good point, 8:47 - certainly they pursued no such remedial order.

To Bluesy and 2:08, you misrepresent my position on snitching so I don't feel obligated to defend some straw man you've concocted.

You're conflating snitches with "witnesses." That's the same mistake the "stop snitching" crowd makes, but it doesn't reflect my view.

Anonymous said...

Snitches and witnesses? What about the victims? As x4livin pointed out, there were plenty of them. To bad they had no one to talk too.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:32 - the other commenters were misconstruing criticisms I've made in other posts of abusive police practices involving informants. Clearly from your reaction they've managed to confuse the conversation.

In fact, in this case one of the main victims was a drug informant - IOW, a snitch - which is an example of how the power discrepancies in such relationships can be easily abused by unscrupulous police.

Bluesy and anon 2:08 were trying to pretend my concern over such issues makes it hypocritical for me to want law enforcement officers to report crimes committed by their colleagues on the job, but I don't consider those stances inconsistent.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to note the Montague County jail failed at least three out of their last five annual inspections. That's annual inspections.

The October 2008 inspection in which they failed, may have been a follow-up as a result of failing the annual inspection.

In any event, 3 failures out of 5 should be cause for the yellow flag to start rising.

See page 14, Sunset Commission Decisions, January 2009 Texas Commission On Jail Standards
http://www.sunset.state.tx.us/81streports/tcjs/tcjs_dec.pdf

One other note, the other counties listed on page 14 need closer scrutinizing as well.

Jackie Buffalo said...

If there were just one top official in Texas that wasn't a party to all of this corruption we would see more pages like this with some of our own local Texas names and faces:

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0115084nifong1.html

I mean, how many scandals have we seen break loose in the justice system lately ? It IS insane.

Anonymous said...

Evidently many bloggers don't understand the procedures of the TCJS. An inspector cannot just go into a jail, see the condition it is in and impose a remedial order. There are many steps to imposing a remedial order which ultimately ends with a visit before the commission board who will vote to impose or reject a remedial order. Wouldn't it be more beneficial if the elected officials of the County would take a greater interest in the bodies that they govern and get more involved in the happenings in the local offices. I assure you that Montague County is not the only one that has these problems - they are the ones that were brought to light. Voters need to remember this when the current commissioners and other government bodies begin seeking re-election and need to ask why they did not take an active interest and check into the operations of the jail.

It is my understanding that the sheriff and his staff knew that an inspection was looming and had time to "clean up" the jail before the inspector got here. Maybe we as voters need to request that all jails be inspected unexpectedly. Any of us that have had friends and/or loved ones in ANY jail want humane treatment for them while they are in there. Even if we know they did the crime, they are still humans.

If the TCJS had the kind of power that some are suggesting that they should have, I wonder how many jails would still be open? Where would they put those people that had abused, assaulted, or stolen from us? It is easy to sit back and judge others when we are not directly involved, but let us become directly involved and it becomes a different view of thinking.

Bottom line is that YES, there was a problem with the Montague County Jail, but it is being corrected. Let's all work together and help prevent this from happening anywhere or in any facility in case someone we know or love is placed in the next "Montague County Jail".

Anonymous said...

"Evidently many bloggers don't understand the procedures of the TCJS. An inspector cannot just go into a jail, see the condition it is in and impose a remedial order. There are many steps to imposing a remedial order which ultimately ends with a visit before the commission board who will vote to impose or reject a remedial order."

How is it the newly elected sheriff had the common sense to virtually close down the jail, but the jail commisssion didn't?

Surely you don't believe that nearly a million dollars in damages to the jail happened between the last time TCJS was there and when sheriff Cunningham took office on January 1, including the control board and fire alarm system not working.

If sheriff Cunnigham saw the urgency to take action, why didn't TCJS?

Your county judge and commissioners court are not exempt here either.

number 9 said...

The FBI was aware of what was going on for some time. They notified a handful of agencies that they were involved in an investigation and asked them not to get involved. TCJS was one of them. TCJS was somewhat aware of what was going on in Montague County, but like the rest, was asked not to interfere.

So to the guy that keeps blaming the TCJS instead of the idiots that voted for the corrupt cops, there's your answer. And yes, I know what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

"So to the guy that keeps blaming the TCJS instead of the idiots that voted for the corrupt cops, there's your answer. And yes, I know what I'm talking about."

I'm not blaming TCJS for what happened at Montague, I'm questioning how is it the newly elected sheriff had the common sense to virtually close down the jail, but the jail commisssion didn't? I'm questioning 3 out 5 annual jail inspections failing.
I'm questioning a reported one million dollars in damage to the jail.

And the jail was allowed to stay open for business?

Do you really know what you are talking about?

Anonymous said...

"I'm questioning 3 out 5 annual jail inspections failing.
I'm questioning a reported one million dollars in damage to the jail.

And the jail was allowed to stay open for business?"

What did the jail commission tell you when you asked them? Instead of coming on here expecting answers to your questions, you did go to the source and ask them, didn't you?

number 9 said...

Anon 12:02, I clearly know much more about this situation you. So yes, I do know what I'm talking about, and if you knew anything about me, you wouldn't even need to question my knowledge of this issue.

Let me explain this in very, very simple terms so that you can understand:

1. The FBI was aware of what was going on in Montague County for quite some time, even before the TCJS knew fully what was going on.

2. The FBI asked the TCJS not to take any major steps that might spook the Sheriff while they worked the investigation.

3. Rather than come down hard on Montague County, the TCJS did exactly what the FBI asked, and went along as "business as usual" to allow the FBI to continue the investigation in order to get rid of the crooked cops.

I don't know how to make this any clearer without drawing you pictures or using puppets to help explain.

If you still have questions, I suggest that you contact TCJS as Anon 5:23 suggested. I'm fairly certain that the inspection reports are subject to open records requests, although I doubt that they will make reference to the request by the FBI.

Place blame where it belongs - with the Sheriff, some of his staff, and those that voted the crook into office. TCJS backed off of the jail because the FBI asked them to.

Anonymous said...

11:42

Did sexual contact between guards and inmates continue after the FBI and TCJS were notified?

Anonymous said...

Good question, let us know when you find out.

Anonymous said...

Don't plan on asking anyone but
#9. He said he knew what he was talking.

Anonymous said...

Somebody needs to come clean house and let us start over. The extent of this mess is way beyond the sheriff'sf office and has been in the making for over 40 years. No county this small can have the problems this one does without alot of people knowing about it and covering it up.