Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Corruption: Houston - Four parole officers charged with accepting payoffs from parolees

U.S. Attorney’s Office 
Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON—Four parole officers from two Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) offices in Houston have been indicted for accepting payoffs from parolees, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today, along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris; Brad Livingston, TDCJ Executive Director; and Bruce Toney, Inspector General of TDCJ-Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“Public officials suspected of corruption can undermine our trust and confidence in government and can tarnish virtually every aspect of American society,” said Morris. “Despite the fact that the vast majority of our country’s public officials are honest hard-working Americans who have dedicated their lives to serve the American people, there are unfortunately a small number who allegedly make decisions for the wrong reasons. The FBI will continue to pursue public corruption as a top priority and encourages anyone with information about potential wrongdoing by a public official to please contact the FBI.”

April L. Carson, 35, of Missouri City, and Crystal M. Washington, aka Crystal Bureau, 52, of Houston, were employed at the TDCJ office located at 2410 Hamilton Street in Houston; while Darlene J. Muhammad, 42, and Ernie Rogers, 56, both of Houston, worked at the Houston TDCJ Parole Office at 8345 Telephone Road.

The four were taken into custody today and are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge George Hanks at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon.

“These arrests are the result of an effective partnership with TDCJ-OIG and other law enforcement entities,” said Livingston. “We fully support their efforts to investigate, arrest, and ultimately prosecute employees that are suspected of breaking the law.”

The indictment, unsealed today, indicates all the defendants are responsible for the supervision of inmates within the state of Texas. Included in this responsibility is the supervision of parolees who travel between states and the supervision of their activities to ensure they do not engage in criminal conduct.

Each parole officer named in the indictment allegedly chose to accept money from a parolee in order to allow the parolee to continue his/her illegal narcotics trafficking and distribution activity. Specifically, the indictment alleges each officer accepted payoffs from parolees in the amount of $1,000 to $3,000 on at least one occasion in order to allow them to continue their criminal behavior.

“The alleged actions of these employees can erode the public’s confidence and damage the integrity of parole officers across the state that perform their duties faithfully every day,” said Toney. “We are committed to rooting out suspected corruption within the criminal justice system.”

If convicted, each faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a possible $250,000 fine.

Anyone suspecting criminal activity or abuse within the TDCJ can make a report by calling the toll-free TDCJ waste/fraud abuse hotline at 1-866-372-8329.

The operation was a combined public corruption task force effort conducted by the FBI, Texas Rangers, Houston Police Department and Office of Inspector General for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The case is being prosecuted by Southern District of Texas with the assistance of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.