13 Investigates: Houston Health employee on paid leave after FBI raid

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Health Department employee named in an FBI search warrant served last week is now on paid administrative leave.

13 investigates sources within the City Hall and legal community revealed that the employee was Barry Barnes. The marketing vendor had been active on a COVID-19 prevention marketing campaign encouraging things like masking and hand washing.

SEE ALSO: FBI serving search warrant at Houston Health Department

Close observers of city politics may recall Barry Barnes is also the name of the mayor's former law partner. It is not the same person and there is no connection.

Former Special Agent Vanessa Walther spent a long time at the FBI working on cases just like this. She knows how long it takes for the FBI to develop a case, especially one alleging possible public corruption.

"A search warrant is part of the beginning stages of an investigation and bureau investigations take a long time. It's a very slow process and it's a very methodical process," Walther said.

Barnes is a 15-year health department employee and said through his attorney, Michael Wynne, that "he was shocked and taken by surprise" at the FBI raid which Walther says is part of the point.

"They want to make sure that they get all the records that ... no one has an opportunity to change records, to destroy records. And so a search warrant sometimes is the best option to ensure that you have a surprise and you get all the records that you're looking for at one time," Walther said.

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