Former METRO CEO appears before grand jury

May 26, 2010 4:45:21 PM PDT
Allegations of document shredding have former METRO CEO Frank Wilson in the hot seat. He spent most of Wednesday testifying before a grand jury. Even though Frank Wilson stepped down from METRO earlier this month, we knew the Harris County District Attorney's Office was continuing its investigation. On Wednesday, we got the first indication of that and the former CEO headed to the courthouse.

Wilson said nothing as he walked into the Harris County Grand Jury proceedings. He didn't talk about the allegations of document shredding that went on at METRO and didn't talk about allegedly spending public money on travels with his chief of staff and possible girlfriend.

But others were more than willing to chime in.

"I didn't have any reason to believe that an indictment is imminent, and I have no idea what they're asking him," attorney Rusty Hardin said. "Of course, that's secret and we'll never know."

Hardin represents Pauline Higgins, METRO's former general counsel. Chip Lewis represents Jakki Hansen, METRO's former associate general counsel, and he thinks alleged document shredding is at the heart of the investigation.

"From Jakki's standpoint, we hope the grand jury sheds light on the fact that the legal department, Jakki and Pauline Higgins, was doing everything they can to get METRO in compliance with the state law. Frank Wilson obstructed that effort," Lewis said.

METRO itself released the statement Wednesday afternoon:

"The District Attorney's office took another routine step today in its ongoing investigation into allegations of document destruction. The allegations were made several months ago in a civil lawsuit brought by Lloyd Kelley. As would be customary in such a DA investigation, METRO's former president and CEO was called upon today to provide information.

"METRO's new board and new leadership fully supports the DA's investigation because they want the facts laid open and dealt with promptly and appropriately to help restore public trust and confidence."

Wilson left the grand jury just after 1:30pm Wednesday, again saying nothing. But the simple fact he was called to testify is relief for the attorneys representing the former METRO employees.

"Personnel management is not his forte, but that's not a crime," Hardin said.

"There are too many options as to speculate as to what they may charge," Lewis said. "I'm just happy they are investigating."

The District Attorney's office can't comment because the investigation is ongoing.

The investigation was launched after attorney Lloyd Kelly filed an open records request. Neither Kelly nor his attorney could be reached for comment.


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