Monday, May 05, 2008

First officer from Dallas fake drug scandal heads to prison

Nearly seven years after Dallas authorities became aware that fake drugs had been used by a crooked confidential informant in cahoots with corrupt cops to trump up charges against two dozen defendants, the first involved police officer, Mark Delapaz, has exhausted his appeals and is finally headed to prison for a five year term. Reported the Dallas News ("Dallas officer convicted in fake drug scandal begins prison term," May 5):

A Dallas police officer convicted in what became known as the fake drug scandal turned himself in Monday morning to the Dallas County Jail to begin serving his sentence, the Dallas County District Attorney’s office said.

Mark Delapaz was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to five years in prison after lying to a judge to obtain a search warrant. He had been free on appeal but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused in February to hear his case.

In December, the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas reversed two of Mr. Delapaz’ other convictions that were tied to the scandal in which paid police informants planted fake drugs. Those decisions are being appealed.

Given what we learned recently about loosey goosey informant rules at DPD's sister agency, the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, which allowed one of its snitches to participate in an armed robbery then allegedly helped cover his trail, I don't think this issue has gone away just because it disappeared from the headlines. I'm aware of few agencies outside Dallas PD and the Texas Department of Public Safety that changed their rules regarding informants significantly after the fake drug scandal.

In the past, Grits has wondered why nobody brings up this episode whenever media cover the phenomenon of "Stop Snitching" t-shirts. Within this bitter fable lies many good reasons to "stop snitching," at least as currently practiced, though my view has always been that rather than "stop snitching," what's needed is to reform it.

For those who don't know the story of the Dallas fake drug scandal, it's on par with the Tulia case in the gravity of the injustice and the depth of evidenced corruption, even if it never garnered as much national media attention. Eight DPD Narcotics officers signed false statement confirming field tests of phony drugs in order to accuse 24 different defendants. Delapaz, though, is the first to actually do prison time.

When you include these cases, it brings the total number of innocents exonerated from prison in Dallas since the turn of the century to 41. For that matter, dozens more people were set up by the same informants (who themselves were drug dealers) using real drugs, but those convictions were never seriously re-examined by the previous District Attorney.

See the Dallas News' interactive website for the whole story, and also prior Grits posts:

6 comments:

Christoph said...

WTF is wrong with TX?

Anonymous said...

send him to the Terrell Unit

Anonymous said...

Why? All he did was tamper with evidence. If he was a DA he would have just gotten a reprimand and anew case to work on.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this will be what needs to happen to the Sherriff in Eldardo.

whitsfoe said...

Man - have any of you seen this movie called "Dirty," a fictional story about the L.A.P.D.? That was fiction, but this Dallas ordeal draws so resemblance. Go watch... kinda eerie.

Anonymous said...

Put him in general population either at Coffield or Allred. Then watch him squirm. Do the crime..do the time.