Top Magnolia cops in hot water

March 6, 2008 5:24:38 PM PST
The police chief and a captain in the town of Magnolia are on administrative leave. The two were indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury earlier this week.

It's a small town scandal that has people talking. News of the indictments has certainly shocked many in that small community, but for others, it seems to them like politics as usual. About an hour half north of Houston, Magnolia is not a major metropolitan area, but behind the small town facade lies big city problems.

"You can vote all you want, depends on whose buddies are whose," said resident Richard McDonald.

This week, a Montgomery County grand jury indicted Police Chief Ron Cunningham along with Captain Mike Smith. Both are accused of retaliating against two officers.

Those officers, Corporal Mike Alexander and Lt. Boyd Crabtree say they were targeted for whistle-blowing on the chief. They accuse him of trying to get his entire department to target certain city council members.

"To supervise, oversee, harass, follow, tail particular people who were running for office or people believed to support those individuals," said the officer's attorney Sheila Haley.

Alexander was eventually fired last year. Although, the city did not cite a reason, the chief's attorney says it was because he allegedly tried to install a key logging device on the chief's computer. As for Crabtree, he had recently been assigned to the nightshift for which he considered a demotion. For those reasons, the chief's attorney says the men made up the allegations.

"Their position is that they are not guilty of anything, if anything, they showed an exhibited great restraint during this entire matter," said the chief's attorney Richard Cobb.

No one from the DA's office would comment about the indictments. The case, meantime, has added more fuel to the already tense political climate taking over this small town.

"Oh absolutely, it's politics that runs rampant here," said Magnolia City Council member Patsy Williams. We're told the chief and captain have already made arrangements to turn themselves in. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.

In the meantime, City Marshall Jerri Carpenter has stepped in as the interim police chief.

You can read more about this story in the Tomball Potpourri, our Houston Community Newspaper partner.

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