DA confirms METRO criminal investigation

March 5, 2010 5:22:32 PM PST
What started as a simple request for METRO documents now includes a lawsuit, a criminal investigation into shredding and judicial oversight to make sure nothing else disappears at METRO headquarters. METRO is a public transit agency obligated to follow the law, but Friday night the district attorney and a district judge are watching over METRO's shoulder to make sure.

We've been telling you for more than a week that METRO is trying to figure out who shredded what, when and why. METRO said from the outset of all this, it destroyed documents, but it was nothing important. Now we know a judge isn't willing to take their word for it and neither is the district attorney.

METRO is supposed to be an agency that gets people to work and helps us avoid traffic jams, but they are in an awful jam themselves right about now.

"They confessed, we won," said Houston attorney Lloyd Kelley.

It's not quite that simple but METRO was ordered to hold on to everything it has now - documents, emails, computer tapes, all of it.

A judge will decide if anything can be deleted going forward. And it gets worse for METRO's public trust. On Friday the DA's office said that METRO destroying documents might have been a crime.

"The Harris County District Attorney's Office has begun an investigation into the allegation that has been raised through these proceedings, that documents, public records have been destroyed by employees or staff at METRO," said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Therese Boos.

All of this started with a request for public documents filed by attorney Lloyd Kelley. He was apparently examining the relationships between METRO CEO Frank Wilson, his chief of staff, other executives, and the company building METRO's light rail lines, Parsons Transportation.

About the time METRO was turning over the documents to Kelley, they discovered some documents were gone. METRO said the shredding was unrelated, but admitted it was done.

"There was shredding that happened. It was something we did not authorize at all," said METRO Board Chairman David Wolff.

"There was some shredding of documents," said METRO CEO Frank Wilson.

Now a week later, METRO's lawyer admitted METRO still doesn't know what its own employees did.

"I don't know and they don't know," said John Beckworth, a METRO lawyer.

When we asked Beckworth when he will know, he replied, "As discovery proceeds."

METRO's lawyer wants to know what Lloyd Kelley knows. This is in the courts now and even though METRO promised in a news conference to release its own investigation to us, they're backing off now.

It is not the transparently METRO promised at the outset.

We'll continue to bring you the latest on the METRO shredding investigation on ABC13 Eyewitness News and here on abc13.com.

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