Dallas Constables Indicted due to Organized Criminal Activity

According to felony indictments, Precinct 1 Constable Derick Evans and former Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes have been accuse of wrongdoing involving campaign contributions obtained through raffles.  Also involved in the indictment are two leading deputies – Tracey Gulley and Kevin Holder.  Evans has been charged with four felony counts of accepting cash contributions greater than $100 and one count of engaging in organized criminal activity.  Cortes has been charged with two counts of tampering with government records and for failing to report contributions on campaign disclosure forms. 

As for Gulley and Holder, they were both charged with one count of engaging in organized criminal activity.  According to the Texas law, a raffle cannot be conducted as a political fundraiser and Special prosecutor Ted Lyon made this clear when he said that Evans and his deputies “engaged in organized criminal activity by promoting an illegal raffle to fund a campaign, which is illegal under the Texas gambling statutes.  And when three or more people do it, it becomes organized criminal activity.”

Lyon took over the investigation soon after Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins withdrew from the case claiming it formed a conflict of interest. Lyon claims the group forced other deputies, who worked for them, to contribute or raise $250 towards Evans’ raffle that would go towards his campaign proceeds.  This issue had been ongoing until recent investigation offered proof.  Lyons claims that Evans, Cortes, Gulley, and Holder “were telling deputies if they didn’t (raise money or contribute towards the tickets) that they would suffer the consequences.  If they didn’t do the job that they were required to do, which is raise that money or contribute that money… $250 bucks – they were penalized.” 

According to Lyons, Cortes was charged with failure to report campaign contributions that he received, in other words, taking money from individuals and not reporting it.  Evidence shows that Cortes was also hosted a raffle for himself, although the charges could not be filed because it was past the 2-year statute of limitations.  The investigation of Cortes and Evans is still under way, and evidence that investigators find could be used against them to add to their charges.  A Dallas Morning News investigation of Evans and Cortes revealed that they had been relying heavily on campaign contributions acquired through the deputies. 

Current and former employees of Evans and Cortes claimed that they had been pressured by all four officers to sell the raffle tickets in order to raise money for re-election campaigns.  Lois Martin and Jaime Torrez, both former deputies for Evans and Cortez, claim they felt forced to sell the tickets, expected to buy any raffle tickets they did not sell, and were told that there would be consequences for not selling tickets, based on what had happened to others who failed to do so.  News found that Martin’s contributions, along with other employee contributions made, were not documented in Cortes’ campaign finance reports.  Danny Defenbaugh, a former FBI Agent hired by the county commissioners to investigate the Cortes/Evans case found that deputies were required to campaign for Cortes while on duty, sell and contribute money through selling tickets for the campaign, as well as work special security details for nothing in return.  Defenbaugh’s report concluded that Evans may have abused his own office by requiring deputies to sell the tickets in the same manner as Cortes expected.  Evans could be held liable for two additional crimes: abuse of official capacity and official oppression, according to Defenbaugh. 

Source: Kevin Krause / The Dallas Morning News

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