Concealing County Corruption: Anatomy of a Cover-Up

Number 25712
Subject Corruption
Source KTRK-TV (Houston)
State Texas
Year 2012
Publication Date 01/2012; 05/2012; 09/2012; 11/2012
Summary Wayne Dolcefino saves the best for last. In his final investigation for KTRK-TV, he and the 13 Undercover Unit demonstrated relentless persistence as they attempted to shake up a county government with an abysmal record of policing itself. This submission begins with four reports detailing shocking evidence of corruption inside the downtown precinct of Constable Jack Abercia. 13 Undercover spent several months doing painstaking surveillance -- catching the Constable’s deputies running his personal errands, working extra jobs on the clock and stockpiling never driven county patrol cars while lawmen were being laid off. 13 Undercover then managed to get a hidden camera inside the chief deputy’s office as he and two deputies talked openly about corruption inside the precinct. The language is often foul mouthed and always revealing. The FBI nabbed Aberica and two top commanders in a bribery sting weeks later. The veteran former constable is now awaiting trial. Eventually, 13 Undercover turned our cameras on county leaders to say “enough is enough.” Not only was action not forthcoming, it quickly became clear that many in positions of power wanted this all to go away without getting their hands dirty, without ending decades of a patronage system that made deputies feel required to give money to their boss’s campaigns and charities to keep their jobs. That was not an option. This investigation demanded accountability and we held leaders to the promises they made to the public. In late summer, 13 Undercover scored a major public records victory that revealed what one commentator dubbed "a cover-up of Nixonian proportions." The series culminated with the long awaited, and previously unimaginable, indictment of one of the county’s most popular elected officials – precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino. New county directives now prohibit constables from soliciting money from their deputies and legislation is expected to filed in Austin to protect county employees from further shakedowns.
Category Contest Entry
Pages
Keywords Corruption; county government; officials
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