New developments in Ibarra brothers case

May 15, 2008 5:13:52 PM PDT
Secret surveillance by the Harris County Sheriff's Department that you paid for; there are new developments in a story we first brought you Monday night. VISIT TED OBERG'S BLOG: Get the latest from Ted Oberg's inFocus blog

We're looking into how your tax dollars were spent. And you may have paid twice for investigators to look into the Ibarra brothers.

On Thursday, there was again no word from Sheriff Tommy Thomas. But more questions are coming up about the group of his employees who secretly conducted surveillance of the two brothers suing the sheriff.

It's no surprise that when Sheriff Thomas was sued, the county's lawyers wanted to know who was suing. That's pretty standard in any lawsuit. To do that background work, the county attorney has 10 investigators on his staff. You pay those investigators - nearly $721,000 a year in salary alone, but in this case - with the sheriff being sued himself - his office didn't call the county attorney at all.

Instead the surveillance instead was done by the sheriff's investigative support unit - a group of detectives led by Major Juan Jorge.

Jorge is the one according to the sheriff's office who ordered and supervised the surveillance mission and he isn't returning our calls.

If his detectives came up with anything they certainly didn't write it down or even document their trip to the house. We checked.

We have every report or document the investigative support unit created in the last two years - that doesn't concern an ongoing investigation. And there's nothing, not even a single document or email, on the Ibarra surveillance. So whatever they found they never passed it on, leading to the still unanswered question - why were they doing it and what did they find?

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett in his first comments on the issue admits he's talked to the Sheriff about the surveillance.

Ted Oberg: Have you asked the sheriff why he did it?
Judge Ed Emmett: No.
Oberg: Have you asked any questions about the surveillance?
Emmett: We had a brief conversation.
Oberg: Have you asked the sheriff any questions about whether he knew it was going on or why?
Emmett: No I did not.
Oberg: What questions have you asked the Sheriff?
Emmett: That's between me and the sheriff.
Oberg: You're also the leader of county government and we'd like to know what you are doing to address this issue?
Emmett: I think what I am doing is very public.

But he's not doing anything on the surveillance issue. It is in his mind a settled legal case and he is leaving it the sheriff to decide if anything needs to be done now or in the future.

Ted Oberg: In this instance, is it right or wrong?
Judge Ed Emmett: In this circumstance, I will not talk about it. It's a settled case.

But it may not be settled - as we've reported in the past few days, the ibarra brothers lawyer lloyd kelley tells us he is working on another lawsuit on this very issue which could be filed in coming days.

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