Sunday, February 19, 2012

Newspapers hide content; Shelby County constable bugs city offices while selling drugs

It says a lot about a community when their local newspapers don’t want to be accessed by outsiders. Following other East Texas “news” agencies, the Jacksonville Daily Progress and Rusk Cherokeean Herald now require readers to pay and subscribe to their propaganda, in order to stave off outside scrutiny. Only a snippet of their articles will be viewable online to those linking to these papers, based upon the editors’ discretion and pressure from the Rusk, TX courthouse. The fact is small East Texas towns employ law enforcement and their familial informants to illegally tape record phone conversations, bug opponents' offices, hack emails, and even steal drugs to plant on innocent people. The reporters at the local newspapers are coddled with front row seats to every trial and grand jury, and some even get the chance to help monitor the lay population. Cherokee County papers know to tow the corrupt county line, or be culled from the district attorney's most favorite list.

Shelby County, TX:

Federal authorities out of Washington D.C. have cracked one of those deposed in the ongoing Tenaha, TX civil rights/"forfeiture scam" law suits. Shelby County Constable Precinct 4 Fred Walker has admitted in a federal affidavit that he and former City Marshal Rod McClure routinely bugged municipal offices as cover for their ongoing drug dealing. (Source: Longview News Journal  Feb. 15, 2012) Walker admits in the statements to the FBI that he and McClure were stealing confiscated drugs from evidence lockers and staging fake break-ins at the City Marshal’s office. McClure and company were eventually blackmailed by one of their local drug dealers. Constable Walker and his Houston attorney denies the admissions were made. (Source: Houston Chronicle Feb. 15, 2012)

Shelby County constable accused of bugging offices

(Courtesy: KYTX CBS 19 Feb. 16, 2012)

Small town law enforcement agencies have responded to the exposure in Tenaha and have apparently begun to cut off the phone services they are illegally monitoring. The Tyler Paper quickly reports non-existent Verizon phone outages are affecting “911 services” in the 2 most corrupt counties in greater East Texas, Cherokee and Rusk counties. (Source: Tyler Paper Phone Outages Affecting Some East Texas 911 Systems Feb. 16, 2012)  The Daily Progress also reports that "Verizon wireless" outages somehow affect local landline phone services; Consolidated Communications, formerly the Lufkin Conroe Telephone Exchange, is the provider of landline (copper) residential phone service in Cherokee County and surrounding areas. Are they too currently dismantling their bugs?

Verizon is a wireless provider and does not offer landline service other than digital Voice over IP (fiber Internet) in areas of East Texas "reporting" outages. Secondly, it has no effect on 911 services provided by DETCOG. (Source: DETCOG Regional 911 Program) Embedded reporters should do a little fact checking when these sheriff departments are the spokesmen for local phone companies. There are no fiber optics for residential service in these small towns. They are however now under Federal scrutiny for the illegal phone drops, the ongoing drug trade and violation of civil rights. Corrupt law enforcement agencies are in direct control of all phone systems in their jurisdictions. Party lines are the method of choice for Cherokee County investigators; the goings on down the road in Tenaha, TX are just a drop in the bucket.

As we stated at the inception of this blog, travelers and businesses should never set foot into corrupt backwoods East Texas. Law enforcement, prosecutors and tenured public officials in this area openly violate Federal law and work hand-in-hand with their family members to rob and steal anything they can get their hands on. Those running for office who aren’t part of the family clique' will have their personal phone calls, postal mail and email hacked. Those who whistle blow against the corruption will be vilified in the local newspapers covering up the generational highway robbery. Some will be brought before a planted jury and accused of made-up crimes; some will be driven out of town by sexual blackmail and/or harassment. Others wind up dead in the nearby National Forests.

Travelers forfeit their privacy and safety in Cherokee County; they lose their wallets and their cars in neighboring Shelby County.

The Shelby County, TX corruption is a microcosm of what Federal authorities covering East Texas are aware of. Rural phones have been tapped by those holding the purse strings since the day they were installed by Ma Bell, from the payphones at the corner market, to Farmer Brown’s at the end of dirt road. USPS mail is opened with complete impunity by those assigned to do so. Now, even emails on county servers are hacked into as fodder for political rivals. What are people to think of prosecutors, investigators and judges who are not only cognizant of the systemic criminal activity going on in their neck of the Piney Woods, but who actively participate in it? --Who have benefited from it for decades and intend to pass it on to their political successors?

US 59, which runs through Shelby County, is known as a national drug corridor. US Route 69, another major drug trafficking route, runs north from Port Arthur through Angelina and Cherokee counties, to Tyler, TX and the DFW metroplex -- all the way to Minnesota. It is monitored by federal agencies and every Tom, Dick and Harry pseudo-cop along the way. The later are not just targeting drug traffickers; they are after innocent people's belongings.

Shelby County law enforcement is an example of how things operate in East Texas. Newspapers and reporters covering Cherokee County and surrounding areas will continue to do their best to convince their dedicated readers and advertisers the same has not been occurring for decades under their noses. When word begins to leak out about the criminal activity of public officials, these papers bury any reports by backdating and archiving the details, hiding them from the sunlight. They will only print what 'good Christian folks' they all are, with no knowledge that their own constables work as drug mules, a la' Cherokee County's Randall Thompson --sentenced to 10 years in 2006 for intent to distribute meth. (Source: Tyler Paper Aug. 23, 2006)

Heck, in Cherokee County, the district judges and local newspapers didn't even know their own bailiff had been indicted in federal court --the same day they removed him from office for not showing up to work...never mentioning on the record Thompson had been busted by federal agents months earlier. (Source: Jacksonville Progress Court Date Set for Constable Removal Trial Jan. 11, 2006)

Shelby County District Attorney Linda Kaye Russell is also under DOJ investigation for allegedly offering bona fide drug runners leniency for forfeiture of their cash on hand to prosecutors. Under this practice, Shelby County collected over $800,000 in less than one year. Innocent motorists were also threatened with money laundering charges if they didn't turn over their property. Russell pleaded the 5th during an August 2, 2010 deposition in Nacogdoches County according to KTRE. (Source: Shelby County district attorney pleads fifth Aug. 3, 2010) The Tenaha civil rights class action suits still sitting on the Federal dockets are in response to the illegal search and seizure procedures of these county officials. The longer the cases are drawn out, the more revealing they become to those out of the region. You barely get a peep out the local newspapers.

The recent Associated Press article on Shelby County, Texas in its entirety:

Affidavit: Texas constable admits ordering bugging
Danny Robbins, Associated Press
Updated 05:23 p.m., Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DALLAS (AP) — A small-town Texas constable told the FBI he secretly bugged other officials' offices after they were accused of illegally forcing motorists to forfeit their cash, according to a search warrant affidavit.

The affidavit, based on interviews conducted by FBI agents and Texas Rangers, quotes Shelby County Constable Fred Walker as saying he authorized the installation of hidden surveillance cameras and digital recorders even though he didn't have legal authority. It also includes a statement from a witness who claims Walker helped organize a scheme to sell drugs seized from suspects.

It's just another chapter in a longtime drama in Tenaha, a town of 1,160 near the Louisiana border, where nearly $800,000 in cash seized from motorists stopped for traffic violations along U.S. Highway 59 has led to lawsuits and a federal criminal investigation of the county's former district attorney and other officials.

Walker, 53, was Tenaha's city marshal at the time the alleged bugging occurred. He was elected constable in 2010.

In a brief phone interview, Walker said he knew nothing about the affidavit, filed in U.S. District Court in Lufkin on Feb. 6. When asked if he arranged to have offices bugged, he hung up.

Walker's attorney, Bassey Akpaffiong of Houston, said prosecutors have told him to expect an indictment. Akpaffiong said Walker was never involved in selling drugs and never told the FBI he authorized the installation of secret listening devices.

Malcolm Bales, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, declined to comment.

The search warrant affidavit was filed as part of a federal case against the owner of a computer repair business in Tenaha. The business owner, Roderrette McClure, pleaded guilty Tuesday to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Authorities found the firearms after obtaining the warrant last August to search for hard drives and other computer devices on McClure's property.

According to the affidavit, McClure told authorities that Walker had him install surveillance cameras disguised as smoke detectors and hidden voice-activated digital recording equipment in the offices of Tenaha Mayor George Bowers and deputy city marshal Barry Washington. Walker said he wanted to "cover" himself over the traffic stops, most of which were conducted by Washington, McClure said in the affidavit.

Walker acknowledged in an interview the same day that he had authorized the installation of the devices in Washington's office and at City Hall, the affidavit states.

Washington and Bowers are among the defendants in a class action lawsuit asserting that authorities in Tenaha and Shelby County threatened innocent motorists, most of them black, with money laundering charges if they didn't forfeit the money they were carrying. Walker has been deposed as part of the suit, initiated in 2008, but isn't named as a defendant.

The Associated Press reported last October that the forfeitures, directed by District Attorney Lynda Kaye Russell, also allowed motorists who genuinely fit the description of drug runners or money launderers to receive light sentences or escape criminal prosecution altogether. Russell left her post at the end of 2011.

U.S. Highway 59, which runs from the U.S.-Mexico border to Canada, is one of the country's best-known drug-trafficking routes.

FBI agents have interviewed many of the motorists, and a federal grand jury in Tyler also has interviewed witnesses and collected evidence, according to individuals who have been questioned as part of the probe. The investigation is being headed by the Department of Justice's civil rights division in Washington.

The search warrant affidavit says the FBI and Texas Rangers began investigating Walker and McClure in August 2010 after Walker reported that 500 pounds of marijuana and other drugs were stolen from his evidence room. Investigators later thought the robbery had been staged, according to the affidavit.

In November 2010, Walker and McClure asked authorities to investigate extortion letters they received in which someone identified as "Jack Frost" sought money to keep quiet about selling drugs from the evidence room, the affidavit says. Investigators located a man who admitted writing the letters, and he said he had been recruited by McClure to sell marijuana and ecstasy, according to the affidavit.

The letter writer told authorities that McClure said he and Walker were stealing marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and hydrocodone from the room and selling it through other individuals, the affidavit says. The document quotes the man as saying McClure and Walker replaced the stolen marijuana with "fire bricks" and that the burglary was staged to cover for the missing drugs.

McClure's attorney, Lori Mack, did not respond to phone messages.

(Courtesy: Houston Chronicle via Associated Press 2012)