FBI, Texas Rangers questioning staffers at DA's office over reaction to grand jury investigation

February 7, 2012 4:24:55 PM PST
One week after a grand jury cleared her office of criminal wrongdoing, the FBI and Texas Rangers launched their own probe into how Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos handled that investigation.

The grand jury's investigation centered around what the DA's office knew about problems with DWI testing vans and when.

Now, two law enforcement agencies want to know just how far the DA went when looking into the grand jurors charged with investigating her office.

Last week, the DA and her team changed their story several times when asked about what went on inside the DA's office.

Over the course of last week, Lykos and her chief investigator shifted their stories, adding information that revealed the fact they did use county resources to look into grand jurors' past.

Now it appears two separate law enforcement agencies want to know more about what they did.

All along, the DA was insistent she'd done nothing criminally wrong handling evidence from HPD's BAT vans. And on the day last week when a grand jury decided not to indict anyone, she called their efforts a politically motivated hounding of her office and wanted it over.

"It is more than enough time that this pall that has hung over our office is removed," Lykos said in a press conference last week.

But tonight, it isn't going away. Eyewitness News learned from people interviewed that the FBI and Texas Rangers are asking questions inside the DA's office. The questions aren't about BAT vans, but about the DA and her team and how they reacted once the grand jury decided to investigate her.

Remember, at first Lykos said she didn't authorize any investigation of grand jurors.

"I know nothing of that, I certainly didn't authorize the investigation -- and, you know, give me a name," said Lykos.

But once we got that name, Lykos admitted she ordered her chief investigator Don McWilliams to conduct internet searches on grand jurors, special prosecutors and two judges.

At least some of those searches were conducted with county paid for databases.

"Does that constitute a misuse or abuse of official information?" KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy said.

After reviewing Texas law, Androphy suggested the DA searches may have crossed the line. Grand jurors' names were sealed by court order months before the DA told her chief investigator to dig up their political past.

"They had access to the names and they were searching out the names that no one else had the ability to search out," Androphy said.

"And that may cause legal problems for them?" we asked Androphy.

"Absolutely. And at least it will cause someone to review this," he replied.

The fact that the FBI and Texas Rangers are asking questions about what went on doesn't necessarily mean any laws were broken. But for a DA who wanted to move past this and lift the "pall" over her office, this cannot be a welcome development.

Lykos' general counsel, John Barnhill, wrote a statement saying only, "Should there be an investigation, we shall cooperate fully."

We've been covering the BAT vans and Harris County DA investigations for sometime. You can check them all out here.