Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Texas constable admits ordering bugging

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 CountyConstable 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 seizures of cash from motorists stopped for traffic violations along U.S. Highway 59 — a well-known drug route that runs from the U.S.-Mexico border to Canada — have led to lawsuits and a federal criminal investigation.
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.

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