More fallout from alleged HPD, HFD ticket fixing

August 10, 2010 3:18:26 PM PDT
An investigation is underway after a woman was apparently able to get a speeding ticket dismissed by putting out a plea on Facebook. The Houston Police Department is launching an investigation to see if any laws were broken, particularly involving one of its officers. HPD won't say any more than that.

We first reported on Monday night about a Facebook post that put out a blanket request for help in getting several traffic tickets fixed. Going online like that, so publicly, many at municipal court found unbelievable.

"I think she should plea her case in court, not on the Internet," said Odelia McAllister.

According to our copy of the comments, a woman identifying herself as a chief investigator for the Houston Fire Department responded, saying she knew the police officer involved and offered to help out.

Within minutes that investigator allegedly wrote that the tickets would be "taken care of." Four and a half hours later, she wrote again that the officer had ripped up the tickets. The exchange caused the Houston Fire Department to ask the city Office of Inspector General to conduct an investigation.

KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy says this can be a crime.

"By destroying tickets, you're tampering with evidence, with government records. They're no different than court documents," he said.

The Houston Firefighter's Union says the person who posted the request is the daughter of a veteran fire fighter who recently died. They say she was out making funeral arrangements when she was ticketed by police.

Androphy says a judge likely would have gone easy on the woman had she explained her case in court. But now, he says, that is much less likely.

"No matter how sympathetic we should feel toward the loss of the young lady, crimes have been committed. Most of us can't get rid of our tickets this way," he said.

We are not naming any of those involved because at this time no one has been charged with any crime.

The City of Houston does not have a social media policy, but the city is planning to change that.


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