Constables and their top deputies in two Dallas county precincts were indicted today on corruption charges, stemming from their demands that subordinates sell raffle tickets or provide cash to fund their re-election campaigns.
Precinct 1 Constable Derick Evans and former Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes, along with two of Evans top deputies, Tracey Gulley and Kelvin Holder, were indicted on a range of crimes including engaging in criminal activity, tampering with government records for not reporting campaign contributions and felony counts of accepting cash contributions of greater than $100.
Texas law provides that raffles cannot be operated for political fundraising. Special prosecutor Ted Lyon said that the illegal activity had been going on for years. “They forced deputies who were under their control, who worked for them, to either raise or contribute $250 towards this so-called raffle, which was for his (Evans) campaign,” Lyon said.
The two top deputies, Holder and Gurley, acted as enforcers for Evans according to Lyons. Department deputies were told that if they didn’t sell the raffle tickets or contribute the $250 themselves, they would suffer consequences, including being cut out of getting off-duty jobs and other perks.
Lyon said that “people know that this is wrong. You can’t do that to your employees. There’s nobody that naïve, I don’t believe.”
Cortes lucked out and was charged only with failing to file campaign contribution reports, since a two-year statute of limitations had run out and prevented the more serious charges from being filed against him.
The Dallas Morning News broke the story in November 2009 alleging that Evans and Cortes pressured employees to finance their election campaigns. In 2008, more that 85 percent of monies raised by Evans for his campaign coffers came from department deputies. Most of the donations were the same: $250.
Former deputy Beau Burt, who was fired in early 2009, told the county that there was a lot of pressure on deputies to provide the constables with campaign cash, and that most of them were scared to speak up for fear of being fired.