Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Charles Sebesta's career as a police trainer

Working off a lead she garnered from the comments of a Grits post, she informs me via email, Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg offers up a terrific piece of reporting on Charles Sebesta, the District Attorney accused of prosecutorial misconduct by the US 5th Circuit and a special prosecutor, Kelly Siegler, in Anthony Graves' wrongful capital murder conviction. Falkenberg hones in on Sebesta's post-prosecutorial career as a trainer for sheriffs' departments, discovering that he misrepresented his credentials on his website:
the disgraced former Burleson County district attorney has been traveling the state, and the nation, he says, advising law enforcement organizations and teaching courses to peace officers.

The negative publicity over a case that even Gov. Rick Perry has called a "great miscarriage of justice" hasn't cost Sebesta a single client, he claims: "I've got as much as I can do."

Kelly Siegler, the special prosecutor in the case who has accused Sebesta of, among other things, manipulating witnesses, fabricating evidence and misrepresenting facts to the jury in the Graves case, called his current teaching role "disgusting."

"The last person you want telling your guys what to do at 3 o'clock in the morning is Charles Sebesta," Siegler said.

Not only is Sebesta teaching, but he's been passing himself off as a state-certified instructor and the staff "training coordinator" for the Sheriff's Association of Texas. The title appears on Sebesta's online bio, and, before I began asking questions, on the association's website. Sebesta told me this week he's the coordinator who "signs the papers."

When I called the sheriff's association, Executive Director Steve Westbrook said Sebesta was not the coordinator and wasn't even on staff. Westbrook said Sebesta was just a contractor who, for a decade or so, has taught two, maybe three courses a month across the state.

"He may call himself the training coordinator, but he's not," Westbrook said. "I don't know if Charles gave himself that title. Maybe it sounded better."
Ouch! There's a "gotcha" moment, beefing up his resume with a phony job title! Even worse (or better, for those indulging in schadenfreude), it turns out he's not even certified as an instructor by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE). He insists it's a recordkeeping error, but neither TCLEOSE nor him can produce any documentation. Wrote Falkenberg:
When I called the commission, the director of education and credentialing, Kim Vickers, maintained it wasn't his job to raise concerns. It's the responsibility of each organization's training coordinator to hire qualified instructors, he said. 

Vickers also disputed that Sebesta is the coordinator, saying he knows the real one and it ain't Sebesta. He added that, like most instructors, a training coordinator is required to be certified.

Sebesta maintains that he is certified, and at least one county that hired him believed he was. It's not hard to get a certificate: you just have to pay $25 and pass a 40-hour course.

But state records show Sebesta has no such certification.
Double Ouch! A professional fraud! And this is the guy who's attacking Anthony Graves', Kelly Siegler, and Pam Colloff's integrity! Falkenberg concludes with such a strong statement I cannot improve upon it:
It's not surprising that Sebesta's story doesn't mesh with the others. He seems to have always had trouble with the facts. When the evidence against Graves wasn't there, he apparently made it up.

When he was told over and over again by different parties that Graves was innocent, he continued not only to prosecute but to seek death.

Sebesta has no business instructing anybody on the law. Even a class on civil process would require him to give guidance on good judgment and ethical standards, two things Sebesta doesn't seem to know the meaning of.

There may be only one course Charles Sebesta is truly qualified to teach: How to steal 18 years of an innocent man's life and get away with it.
If a fiction writer created a shameless sleazebag District Attorney like Sebesta as a character in a novel, it would be viewed by critics as over-the-top caricature. He and Mike Nifong ought to start a club.

See related coverage:


Anonymous said...

But see, Ms. Falkenberg's column in today's Chronicle:


Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Not sure what that has to do with Charles Sebesta misrepresenting his credentials, but okay.

rodsmith said...

LOL so in other words he's proved again he's a LIAR and a FRAUD!

so why is he not UNDER ARREST!

Anonymous said...

Rod Smith: Exactly. Where are the charges in Travis County for his various violations of state law?