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.