Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bexar DA stepping into probation department urinalysis fiasco

I've been critical of Bexar County DA Susan Reed in the past, so I've got to give the devil her due. ;) According to Greg Harman writing the San Antonio Current
the DA’s office has stopped prosecuting probationers solely on the results of an initial dirty urinalysis. [ADA Cliff] Herberg said too many questions have been raised about Treatment Associates’ testing to trust the results. The District Attorney’s office is now investigating complaints that Treatment Associates employees accepted bribes for clean test results.

“We do not want somebody being arrested in a system we don’t have confidence in,” he said.

Good for the District Attorney, that was the right move. I'm quite relieved to learn Reed stopped prosecuting based solely on unconfirmed probationer UAs after the false positive problem emerged last year. The probation department and private contractor both refused to pay for more accurate, confirming tests, so IMO that was an appropriate and wise (if unpublicized) response.

And I'm doubly glad somebody in Bexar County officialdom is taking seriously allegations of bribe taking by employees of the urinalysis vendor - I was beginning to think everybody in SA just had bribery fatigue and nobody really gave a damn anymore.

In addition to investigating bribery allegations, the DA should investigate whether anybody over at the probation department knew about these alleged criminal activities who would have had an affirmative duty to report the crime because of their position as an officer of the court. It looks from the outside like there was a coverup, that officials in the probation department and/or other agents of the court likely knew about the alleged bribetaking and knowingly decided overlook it. If so, that falls squarely in the DA's purview, and it surely must be clear by now the Bexar probation department can not be relied upon to investigate itself.

The Current also renewed and updated allegations of union-busting by top management in the Bexar probation department:
it appears union-busting topped the to-do list for Chief Probation Officer Bill Fitzgerald and Director of Operations Kathy Cline.

According to former Bexar County probation IT Director Natalie Bynum, Cline kept a list of known and suspected union members she wanted out of the department. To weed them out and quash the union, she had Bynum meet her repeatedly during and after work to comb through employee email accounts.

“She wanted their computers monitored in order to find out if they were doing any union activities while on the job, also to see what was going on with the union,” said Bynum, who now lives in Arizona and spoke with the Current by phone. “We’d go to the bar and then we’d go back to work afterwards. It would be just us in the office, often-time.”

Bynum, a close confidant of Cline’s during her tenure, says she was motivated by curiosity since she was “not allowed” to speak with known members of the Central Texas Association of Public Employees, a division of the United Steelworkers. Cline and Bynum’s alleged searches weren’t limited to the “five to 10” employees targeted by Cline, either. Bynum told the Current this week that Cline also regularly tapped into her boss’s account to see if Fitzgerald was talking about her.

Neither Cline nor Fitzgerald returned repeated calls for comment.

That's a fascinating and telling anecdote right there about departmental culture, with Fitzgerald's #2 allegedly checking into not only union members' email contents but also her boss'! Ouch! Do you suppose Cline and her boss have some trust issues? I guess after the last #2 (Paul Kosierowski, now a plaintiff in litigation against the department) was unceremoniously bounced out, nobody atop the agency trusts anybody anymore. That's a lot of internal office drama taking up agency leaders time and attention, diverting focus, for example, from implementing programs to reduce probation revocations.

Thanks to the helpful reader who emailed links to the Current piece and a couple of other news stories on the topic.


Soronel Haetir said...

Given that unionizing is not job related employees deserve to get busted if they send such emails through work systems. Regardless of how screwed up the department is in other ways.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Soronel, I'd suggest lab employees who take bribes in exchange for false negatives also "deserve to get busted," but we can see which group the management at Bexar CSCD is more interested in pursuing.

Anonymous said...


Employees never ever used the emails at work for the union. As per Bynum nothing union was ever found!!! They wanted to see if they could find anything!! They were also trying to see who they talked to and track their movements.

Anonymous said...

The DAs office should start by question Ms Boore. She was made aware of ua lab techs offering clean UAs for $20.00.

She stated she would look into it. I gues that was never done because they still hold the contract. Does thedepartment even know how to investigate or do they just investigate "union activity" known as union busting.

Anonymous said...

F.B.I. in San Antonio, Texas!!!!!!!! Do ya'll have any MORALS in investigating a CORRUPT CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM involving, the Judges at the Bexar County Court House/Justice Center, Commissioner's Court and Management at the Bexar County Adult Probation Dept???????? Do not! I repeat. Do not allow the Bexar County District Attorney's office to investigate. Evidence uncovered which may lead to them or their cronies, is easily lost for some odd reason. QUICK! Catch them before any EVIDENCE is destroyed.

Anonymous said...


I wonder if the FBI office in San Antonio looks at Grits? If you want to communicate with them, better do it directly.

Anonymous said...

Let me see!!!!!

In order to become an F.B.I. agent in this country the almighty UNITED STATES of AMERICA you have to have a College Degree. Am I correct or not?
So, in doing college course work, college students have to do a lot of reading, true or not!!!!!! In fact, if you are one of the chosen few to become an F.B.I. agent, you are expected to do a lot of reading while attending the academy. Correct me if I am wrong!

With all the news articles that have been published in both the S.A. Express & News newspaper and in S.A. Current magazine concerning CORRUPTION in the Criminal Justice System in Bexar County: Do you mean to tell me F,B,I, agents in San Antonio,Texas which is surrounded by Bexar County do not read the DAMN newspaper.

I HOPE & PRAY the agents here can READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh really? The "I didn't know the Southwest Airlines Tickets that were clearly marked NOT FOR RESALE weren't for sale" District Attorney is supposed to investigate corruption?
Are you kidding me? Stop blaming the FBI! They DO know what is going on and that there are several federal lawsuits that involve the "allegations" against the Mobster mentality at Bexar County CSCD.
Just keep watching as the tower crumbles and takes down ALL the Administration there. I wouldn't buy anything on credit Bill, Cathy, Leticia, Minerva, Mary, Robert or "Doc", or any of the managers, you may be unemployed soon and possibly locked up. Mr. Warner you may want consider the above as it may involve you, too. I can't wait!!!!!
P.S. Soronel is an ass or administrator at Bexar County CSCD (same thing, I guess)

Anonymous said...


You need to read the SA Current's new que blog on mobster probation.
Harman list's some depo testimony from Kline and Warner. It is a telling insight into their cover-up.

Warner states the urinalysis tests were good but the camera that read the results of the urinalysis lied to the department.... because the camera was broken??? I wanted to throw-up after reading how he and Cline testified.

This really does rise to the level of a FBI investigation. They knew what was going and still used these results. Paul K.'s lawsuit paints a picture where he tried and failed to speak out and correct the situation. I would like to read all these Depo's. If the FBI does not step in here then they just need to cross color of the law violations of law enforcement off their list of things they investigate!!

Anonymous said...

Who will be Bexar County Probation Departments Frodo, destroying the ring and thus bringing down the tower of Sauron?

Anonymous said...

All I can say is all those officers that have complained about Fitzgerald on this blog over the past few years....stand and take a were all right. I hope he goes to the slammer with his sidekick the snoop.

Anonymous said...

You just can not incarcerate a person on a false positive ua. Everyone is entitled to due process under the law. At some point the department should have put a stop to the drug screens until the problem was solved. Judges should have been mad aware of the situation.I've read the article in the San Antonio Current. It appears that the person running Treatment Associates just does not understand the criminal justice system and a persons right to contest a positive ua.

Anonymous said...

My SA article is written very well and shows the need to make changes at the helm for the Bexar County Adult Probation.

Comment as follows: Wikipedia's defines integrity as a concept [that]has to do with perceived consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes — not necessarily in every minute detail, but holistically. As politically charged as any office can be, I believe all judges who took an oath for their office has a duty to oversee and get involved in their specific charge. Unlike other states, judges here have the authority to hire the chief of probation. With this authority, these judges can make a decision to change the direction for the overall good of Bexar County. The first item of business these judges should have taken up on the first complaint (not the 40th complaint) is what is good for Bexar County. Thus far, each judge, male and female, felony and misdemeanor side, absolutely let the citizens of this county down for six years by not getting involved in the beginning and staying informed as to the integrity of the department and the treatment of officers and probationers. We as citizens must remember this during each judge's election cycle. There are many great officers sacrificing each day to monitor thousands of offenders. The lack of action by the courts has been an insult to these fine officers, who day in and day out, deal with bureaucracy and a draconian chief. Bexar County is at least twenty years behind in protecting citizens because of this inaction; I don't believe any administrator or current management staff has the qualifications to understand the charge given to this office and the need to protect the citizenry secondarily to rehabilitation. We as citizens should demand vigilance of serious offenders and give officers the respect. Simply look at inflated management's salary, and you will find self-serving administrators who have stepped on the backs of officers to assure their positions. The shame brought on by these managers/administrators is reflected in the silence. Each lack integrity by allowing this to go on.