Four Texas parole officers were jailed in Houston on Monday as authorities began the first arrests in a continuing, year-long federal and state investigation into allegations that the officers took payoffs to ignore drug-trafficking and other illegal activity by recently freed convicts. ...Though the timeline and precise chain of events underlying this episode remain unclear, Ward wrote that the investigation was initiated after state Sen. John Whitmire's office "was tipped by an inmate who said he was being shaken down for money and sex "
In Houston, U.S. Attorney Ken Magidson said the indictments allege that the four arrested parole officers took took bribes averaging $1,000 to allow them to continue dealing drugs. On one occasion, the payoff was $3,000.
The arrested officers — identified as April L. Carson, 35, of Missouri City, and Crystal M. Washington, 52; Darlene J. Muhammad, 42, and Ernie Rogers, 56, all of Houston — were to be arraigned on federal charges, according to authorities. They said bond was not immediately set.
Officials said the investigation is continuing, hinting that other arrests are likely.
Federal authorities said the four officers worked at two Houston parole offices, where allegations of bribery and exchange of sexual favors had been under investigation for some time.
Separately, reported Ward, juvenile correctional officers from the Evins unit in South Texas face allegations of excessive force, official oppression and covering up misconduct:
In a separate case, juvenile-justice system director Mike Griffiths [Monday] announced the arrests of three employees at the Evins lockup, including security director Pete Martinez. The other two employees were identified as Juan Tamez and Julian Fuentes, both correctional officers.Ugly, disturbing allegations.
The Evins lockup has been plagued by gang violence and assaults by youths on staff and other youths for nearly two years.
Griffiths said Tamez and Fuentes, both alleged to have used excessive force on teen-aged lawbreakers incarcerated at the lockup, face official oppression charges, and Martinez is accused of falsifying records concerning the abuse.
He said that three youths who were identified as victims did not sustain serious injuries.
In addition to the three employees who face criminal charges, seven other Evins staff members have been suspended for having knowledge of the alleged abuse but failing to report it, according to Griffiths.
MORE: See more detail on the situation at TJJD's Evins unit from the McAllen Monitor, July 2:
Three employees at an Hidalgo County juvenile detention facility were arrested last week for allegedly using excessive force against inmates.
Officers from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General arrested Evins Regional Juvenile Center correctional officers Juan Tamez and Julian Fuentes, along with Evins Director of Security Pete Martinez between June 21 and 27.
Tamez and Fuentes were charged with official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor, and Martinez was charged with tampering or fabricating physical evidence, a third-degree felony. ...A probable cause affidavit against Martinez charges him with deleting a video that showed Fuentes mistreating an inmate.On April 8, an inmate who had been in Evins for almost two years was ordered to a special detention area for being disruptive, the affidavit said. Fuentes escorted the handcuffed inmate, and while doing so twisted the inmate’s arm, slammed him against a concrete cell wall and his bunk. Then, after the teenager told Fuentes to stop, the jailer slammed the youth hard against the cell floor and fell on top of him.The youth was being cooperative at the time of his mistreatment, the affidavit said. Fuentes admitted to investigators that he intentionally physically mistreated the youth.After the incident, Fuentes’ direct supervisor told him that the violence had been recorded on camera, but that Martinez had deleted the video.Details of Tamez’s arrest were not available at press time Tuesday. His charges are identical to Fuentes’. The probable cause against Martinez does not mention any incident involving Tamez.