Liberty Co. commissioners subpoenaed by grand jury

LIBERTY COUNTY, TX It's fallout from a joint investigation by 13 Undercover and The Cleveland Advocate newspaper, a probe of possible cleanup corruption in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

"I think you're crossing a line now getting into my personal finances," said Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald, who clearly didn't like our questions last year.

But his involvement in debris cleanup in his very own county was staring us in the face. 13 Undercover surveillance proved the judge's trucks were being used. This was a brother-in-law deal, really.

"Mark, we just want to ask some questions," we said to Mark Miksch of MWM Enterprises.

"I asked you to leave my property," he answered. "That's the last time I'm going to say it."

The judge's brother-in-law became the daily operations manager for one of the county's big debris contractors, C and C. A total of $3.2 million was billed to taxpayers, and the judge's family may have got close to a million of it.

"We discussed that Dolcefino was in town and he was discussing the debris pickup," Liberty County Precinct 2 Commissioner Lee Groce said.

And then there's Commissioner Groce. He's a close friend of another hurricane contractor, Winston Sizemore. Sizemore paid for Groce to come to his Las Vegas wedding.

"He's a lifelong friend of mine, has been a friend of mine my whole life and we would have went anywhere to get him married," said Groce.

Sizemore's company got an $8 million debris contract.

The judge and the commissioner have all denied wrongdoing, but it may have been unsettling that the federal grand jury apparently wants to hear from the other members of commissioners' court on how the hurricane contractor selection went down.

At least three county officials have been summoned along with the secretary of the county judge.

Next month should be interesting east of town.

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