Long-awaited Constable report short on details

May 8, 2012 3:23:18 AM PDT
Wait till you see the long-awaited report on the constables. Is it a whitewash? You be the judge.

13 Undercover's been exposing possible wrongdoing in some of the constable's offices for months, and last week, we questioned why the county attorney hadn't taken action.

Maybe you didn't expect the county attorney to come down hard on the constables, but now there's not even a slap of the wrist.

What did high-priced county lawyers do in 10 long months? You'll see.

"We are reviewing facts, which do not look good. I can't say that they rise to the level of official misconduct or crimes, but they are serious," Terry O'Rourke told us last year.

That was Terry O'Rourke last year, after 13 Undercover had exposed possible wrongdoing in Victor Trevino's Precinct 6 office; alleged misuse of county equipment had now surfaced in May Walker's office; within months, another constable -- Jack Abercia -- would be in chains, arrested by the FBI for alleged bribes he denies.

"There is an investigation in the district attorney's office as well as a review in our office of all the conduct in Precinct 6 and other constable precincts," O'Rourke said.

Now, that long-awaited report has finally been issued and it took 10 months.

"It's a cut and paste job," KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy said.

You have to read it to believe it. It won't take long, it's barely five pages long. The summary is just two sentences and it doesn't name names -- not one.

"Should they be embarrassed?" we asked Androphy.

"Embarrassed is not the word here -- incompetency," he replied.

So what does it say? It provides legal advice to the constables on how they can avoid breaking the law and a lot of it is plain common sense.

"A law student could have cut and pasted from the various different codes and produced this report within 30 minutes," Androphy said.

But did anyone break the law, violate county policies? Based on this report, who knows.

"Is the county attorney the public's lawyer or the constable's lawyer?" we asked Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan.

"The people of Harris County's attorney," he replied.

"They were elected to protect the public from the public officials, not the public officials from the public," Androphy said.

Your watchdog won't let you see what his office discovered along the way. Last week, we showed damaging emails that suggested they wanted to keep you in the dark. We showed you how a corruption report on another former county official was changed to take out some of the bad stuff. What happened to all that tough talk?

"Nobody is immune, that's our job," O'Rourke said.

"Does this look like a whitewash?" we asked Androphy.

"Totally," he said.

If you'd like to tell the county attorney what you think, here's his phone number: 713-755-5101.

On your behalf, we have demanded once again to see all those draft reports. In February, they claimed they had reviewed thousands of documents, interviewed several people. Who? What'd they say? Don't you have a right to know? After all, you paid for it.


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