Saturday, January 29, 2011

DISROBED AND DEFENSELESS

Some people may announce that the controversy is over before most of the public even hears about it, but Liberty County taxpayers may have a very different view after seeing the prisoners tracking out of the Zack Zbranek law offices just before lunch on Friday January 21, 2011. As some observed almost $100,000 of county property being returned to the courthouse by prisoners in orange jumpsuits, they would be more than justified if once again they patted themselves on the back about voting overwhelmingly to evict Judge CT Rusty Hight from his position as the District Judge of the 75th District Court.

Defeated and embittered, in his last days in office, rather than do his work by holding court, Judge Hight decided to strip the offices of the newly elected judge of all of the books used by judges to reference court cases. This kind of behavior may have been just a vengeful attack on his opponent, but it hurts everyone that loves this county or loves justice. Newly elected District Judge, Mark Morefield was not available for comment.

Records obtained from the County Auditor’s office through an open records request indicate that over $90,000 in the last six years have been spent to keep the library in the 75th judicial up to date. The County Auditor’s office indicates a great deal more money has been spent on black letter law books for that office, but copies of invoices only go back to September 30, 2004. All of that money is taxpayer money and you don’t have to a law degree to know those books belong to Liberty County.

After losing at the polls in the November election, former Judge Hight added to his legacy of allowing sex offenders to go free and wheeling and dealing cases with friends of the court and allowing District Attorney, Mike Little to selectively prosecute political enemies. He can now forever be remembered by the way he not only quit kissing babies after the election was over, but how he quit holding court. He now can say he took the tools purchased by taxpayer money and needed by all judges and left WE THE PEOPLE to pay the price for his theft. How proud he must be of his public service!

In a ridiculous effort to justify taking public property, former Judge Hight claimed he merely took his brother-in-law’s- the late J.C.”Zeke” Zbranek’s law books. But believing that excuse would require someone to believe our former District Judge had no inkling of the laws having to do with ownership and that he was not bright enough to remember purchasing boxes and boxes of books and stocking row after row of shelves in his office in the courthouse. Most of that was done after Judge Zbranek was retired and many of the purchases were made after Judge, Zbranek’s death. How could anyone believe those books were former Judge Hight’s brother-in-law’s? And if someone still wants to give former Judge Hight the benefit of the doubt, the explanation of why he still refused to return the books when dates are in the books and the county receipts are on file.

On top of all of that, anyone that thinks this was just an oversight or mistake needs to know one other thing. Judge Hight openly considered taking all of the furniture too!

This issue is resolved according to some. On December 17, 2010 County Attorney, Wes Hinch was asked to help resolve the problems identified after newly elected District Judge, Mark Morefield walked into his new office and found the entire wall full of law books were missing. Wes Hinch immediately requested documentation from County Auditor, Harold Seay. Wes Hinch awaited documentation clearly showing county ownership of most of the books as supporting evidence before preparing a request for an Attorney General’s opinion.

As Judge Hight continued to stonewall any efforts to get him to return the books, Judge Morefield continued to hold court and referenced his own books a block away in his old law offices, or sometimes he borrowed books from other judges in the courthouse. Judge Morefield did what he needed to do to catch up the court docket rather than cause more delays for people who have waited for their day in court since Judge Hight shut it down in December.

Instead of filing a complaint and investigation, while waiting for documentation, the County Attorney decided to write a letter to Judge Hight asking him to produce any agreement between Judge Zbranek and Liberty County that would justify him even keeping the books that were purchased during Judge Zbranek’s tenure. That letter seemed to be the catalyst for Judge Hight inviting Liberty County to retrieve their property out of his offices in the Zbranek law offices. Wes Hinch did not file charges against Judge Hight and Liberty County District Attorney, Little would not do anything to protect the people’s interest when clearly grand larceny had been committed. These two seem team up quite often lately – and it is always teaming up to DO NOTHING.

Taxpayers and voters and all of us regular folks at this point may wonder why didn’t Judge Hight just return the books himself (instead of Judge Hight sending word the stolen books could be retrieved) but he didn’t. In order to secure county property, Wes Hinch called on Jim Teal rather than Sheriff Patterson like he should have. Teal, the supervisor of The Intermediate Sanction Facility within the jail, secured prisoners and dollies to move the books and properly restock the District Judge’s office. How ironic it would be if any of those convicts were imprisoned for theft. Wes Hinch used the county’s tax money to return the stolen books and he used convicts to help cover a crime.

Those who pay the salaries of public officials may wonder where DA, Little was in December and the first three weeks of January. DA, Little’s name is inexplicably missing in every account of this story Liberty Dispatch has heard. DA, Little’s missing in action on this could be attributed to all of the close political ties he has with fellow Democrat Judge Hight. DA, Little’s relationships and his past practices in that courthouse could have made everyone involved reluctant to approach Little and trust Little with this case after hearing story after story of not only Little’s selective prosecution, but Little’s personal vendetta against high ranking public officials. Even high ranking public officials may have had to pause to consider what good it would do to call law enforcement when this is one of the District Attorney’s pals.

Not to miss out on the irony of the whole scenario, Judge Hight was the Judge and Little was the prosecutor not that long ago when former Courthouse Maintenance Director Buddy Craig was shown no mercy for many months because he had some county property stored at his house. Buddy Craig is a heck of a nice guy and a hard worker with a reputation at least as good as his accusers. DA, Little and Judge Hight never accepted Buddy’s assertion that he simply was storing the material in the best place. DA, Little tried to nail Craig with some prison time. He was not offered an opportunity to return the material even though Buddy Craig’s story was more credible than Judge Hight’s even though there was evidence presented to corroborate his story.

The allegations and evidence charged that Judge Hight committed grand larceny and Zbranek accepted stolen property. Liberty County Attorney, Wes Hinch and Liberty County District Attorney, Little turned a blind eye to these crimes just like they did with the Judge Phil Fitzgerald and Lee Groce crimes. These men are not elected to cover up crimes for certain people.

It appears true once again that justice in our courthouse with Little as District Attorney depends on who you are and how you fit in with Little and Little’s buddies’ agendas. If that is not true then prepare to see a trial very similar to the one we saw in the Craig case. Prepare to see what would have happened if you or I had taken a District Judge’s books and kept them for weeks with this kind of lame excuse. Prepare to see Judge CT Rusty Hight disrobed and defenseless.

Friday, January 28, 2011

LIBERTY TEXAS: Former County Judge and Commisioner Indicted by Federal Grand Jury

The US Attorneys office in Beaumont, Texas have returned a 25 count indictment against each John "Phil" Fitzgerald, Herman "Lee" Groce and brother-in-law to Fitzgerald, Mark Wayne Miksch of La Vernia, Texas.

Press Release from the US Attorneys office:


FORMER LIBERTY COUNTY JUDGE AND COMMISSIONER INDICTED IN HURRICANE FRAUD SCHEME

Public officials alleged to have violated conflict of interest laws; pocketed over a half-million in disaster relief funds

BEAUMONT, Texas – A former Liberty County Judge and Commissioner, and a local businessman have all been indicted in a hurricane fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

John "Phil" Fitzgerald, 51, of Liberty, Texas, Herman "Lee" Groce, 62, of Cleveland, Texas, and Mark Wayne Miksch, 52, of LaVernia, Texas, were named in a 25-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Jan. 26, 2011. The defendants have been summoned and will make their initial appearances on Feb. 1, 2011 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Earl S. Hines.

The indictment alleges that following Hurricane Ike's landfall on Sep. 13, 2008, Fitzgerald, the Liberty County Judge, and Groce, the Liberty County Precinct 2 Commissioner, used their elected positions to fraudulently influence and award debris removal contracts to a company in return for sub-contracts being awarded to Fitzgerald's brother-in-law and businessman, Miksch. As part of the scheme, Fitzgerald is alleged to have received approximately $611,000.00 in kickbacks disguised as legitimate business transactions.

Additionally, Fitzgerald is charged with the unauthorized use of a 155 kilowatt generator which was purchased by and for the benefit of Liberty County and then reimbursed by FEMA. Instead, Fitzgerald is alleged to have commandeered and used the generator to power Fitzpak, a convenience store and gas station in Moss Hill, which Fitzgerald owned and operated.

As a result of the conspiracy, approximately $3,269,456.76 in debris removal contracts were fraudulently awarded by Fitzgerald and Groce in violation of state and federal laws.

Fitzgerald and Groce both lost their bids for re-election in November 2010, thus concluding their respective positions with Liberty County on Dec. 31, 2010.

This case was brought as part of this District's partnership with the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF), a nationwide initiative to protect available funds and assistance for those victims of both natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and the recent Gulf oil spill. If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, you can contact the NCDF by either calling the hotline at (866) 720-5721, faxing the hotline at (225) 334-4707, emailing at disaster@leo.gov or in writing to National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909.

If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge. Additional charges range from five to 30 years in federal prison.

This case is being investigated by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, and the Office of the Texas Attorney General – Criminal Investigations Division. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Batte.

A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

FEDERAL PROSECUTOR'S PRESS CONFERENCE

MEDIA ADVISORY
Office of United States Attorney John M. Bales
Eastern District of Texas

WHEN: Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, 10:30 am

WHO: U.S. Attorney John M. Bales

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Department of Homeland Security - OIG

Texas Office of the Attorney general – Criminal Investigations Division

WHAT: Announce indictments of individuals charged with

Public Corruption and Hurricane-related Fraud

WHERE: U.S. Attorney's Office

350 Magnolia

Suite 150

Beaumont, Texas 77701

Thursday, January 27, 2011

HURRICANE IKE FEMA INDICTMENTS HIT LIBERTY COUNTY

Liberty Dispatch has learned that multiple federal indictments on several individuals will be released tomorrow, the 28th of January 2011.

Liberty Dispatch broke the original Liberty County FEMA fraud investigation story.

We would like to thank all those at Liberty Dispatch who have helped uncover the corruption in Liberty County- including KTRK, Wayne Dolcefino and HCN.

Our work continues even under pressure from the corrupt officials still in office.

We will keep our readers posted as this important story emerges.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BUTT OUT BUCHANAN

When will all of the spin from our local radio station end? If KSHN thinks someone is guilty, or they want them to appear guilty, their “news stories” make them sound guilty. If KSHN thinks someone is innocent, or if they want them to appear innocent, their stories make them appear that way.

KSHN‘s advocacy for prior Liberty County Judge, Phil Fitzgerald is a good example. Liberty Dispatch will not speculate on why part owner of KSHN radio Bill Buchanan has had such a well known desire to have Fitzgerald exonerated, but he has one. KSHN learned late Wednesday afternoon that former Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald has been indicted in Federal District Court in Beaumont. He must have been greatly disappointed. But his efforts to discourage federal investigators from charging Fitzgerald have now failed. But don’t expect that Buchanan will give up so easily. Buchanan has tried to influence public opinion and the courts around here for over thirty years.

So what does KSHN’s little one sheet “news” say about the indictment? It says exactly what Fitzgerald’s lawyers would want potential jurors to hear: “Mr. Fitzgerald confirmed he got a phone call from the Federal District Court that he was indicted and he looks forward to getting these issues resolved. He did not know if there were one or more charges against him.” It doesn’t tell readers what Fitzgerald has been accused of and it doesn’t remind them that while most of us suffered financial damage during the hurricane, Fitzgerald was making a small fortune.

Buchanan continues to try and paint political stories and scandals the way he wants them to be, but a federal judge’s sealed indictment will detail the charges in the indictment tomorrow. The feds may have to work a little harder with KSHN working against them in the background, but hopefully Fitzgerald’s guilt or innocence will be unaffected.

JUST SAY “NO” TO LOCAL LIBERALS

At a Monday meeting, a local Dayton, Texas City council approved the purchase of new street decorations for the city. Much of the nearly $10,000 budget approval is for banners to display over Dayton city streets at Christmas, but according to one councilman none of the items in the selection they were shown celebrated Christmas.

Any effort to spend that kind of money with the kind of political correctness we hear about from liberal Democrats was nipped in the bud by Dayton City Councilman, Mr. Bill Gay. Sources revealed to Liberty Dispatch that the Councilman commented he was “offended” by the banners that had been selected.

The banners all expressed Christless sentiments about the time of year like “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings”. Liberty Dispatch joins Councilman Gay in believing the banners should say something about the birth of Jesus Christ. The conservative majority should not allow a liberal minority decide what the Christmas decorations are going to look like in our community.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Liberty County Attorney and Radio Station Lie to Liberty County

KSHN RADIO-VOLUME 26 NO. 14 MONDAY, JANUARY 24, 2011 :

"Janet Harrelson Back in the News: A former Liberty County elected official has filed a petition to sue Liberty County claiming she was unlawfully removed from office. Back in 2002, the newly elected treasurer, Janet Harrelson, was blocked from being sworn in when she came under suspicion of abusing her rights as an elected official. Later, Ms. Harrelson was convicted on four counts. Two were overturned on appeal while the other two were upheld by a higher court. Now, Janet Harrelson is seeking permission to file suit against Liberty County and former Democrat Party Chair John Archer over her removal. Liberty County Attorney Wes Hinch said the big question at the moment is whether or not the statute of limitations for this type of suit ran out years ago. So far, no suit has been filed."

KSHN and Wes Hinch have apparently mislead and suppressed the truth from Liberty County- but why the conspiracy?

According to the KSHN story for tomorrow, statements from Wes Hinch and KSHN claim Democrat, John Archer and Liberty County have not been sued. Hinch and KSHN state that only a "notice or permission to sue" has been filed- that is a complete lie. Why would KSHN and Wes Hinch give cover to John Archer? Could it be they favor Democrats who have been accused of fraud?

To clear the facts and speak the truth, LD readers need to know:

1. A lawsuit against Liberty County and John Archer has in fact been filed in Liberty County and the case number is #CV1103946.
2. A fraud claim has been filed and the statute had not run before the suit was filed.
3. In the Harrelson case, Wes Hinch's connections and cover to alleged sex offender and corrupt public official, DA Mike Little appear to run deep.

According to the Liberty County Texas District Clerk's office:

Party Name Date Description Pages
HARRELSON,JANET 01182011 PLAINTIFF'S ORIGINAL PETITION/FK 4
HARRELSON,JANET 01182011 CIVIL FILING PAYMENT CIVIL PROCESS REQUEST / CIVIL CASE INFO SHEET/FK 3
HARRELSON,JANET 01182011 SERVICE FEE PAYMENT 0
01182011 CIT ISSUED-LIBERTY COUNTY, TEXAS/CRAIG MCNAIR-TO ATTY/FK 2
01182011 CIT ISSUED-JOHN C ARCHER-TO ATTY/FK 2
01192011 RET CIT-LIBERTY COUNTY, TEXAS / JOHN C ARCHER/FK 2

THE GAME HAS CHANGED FOR LOCAL REPUBLICANS

Any knowledgeable observer of Liberty County politics is aware of the total reversal of fortune Republicans began to experience in the 2008 election cycle. Running as a Republican in Liberty County in 2004 was a burden that only Bobby Rader had been able to carry victoriously through the gauntlet of a November election. In a brief four year period the roles are now reversed. Political observers and potential candidates now have to wonder if anyone can carry the burden that being associated with the Democratic Party carries. Liberty County voters will undoubtedly flock to vote in the Republican primary. With that in mind Liberty Dispatch, the only local media that have openly informed their readers that everyone who writes on this website is a conservative, will periodically critique those who claim the Republican banner as their own.

Because of his recent admission of where he intends the County Attorney’s office to focus its attention on in the Harrelson case, our critique of the first two years of Wes Hinch will be today’s assignment. Hinch is a perfect example of how the effects of party affiliation have changed so much in such a short period of time. A new face to those who have worked with the local Republicans, Hinch and his supporters watched with great anticipation as he defeated Assistant County Attorney Tommy Chambers in 2008. Riding the tide of an election that saw a relatively unknown sheriff candidate beat a two term incumbent; Hinch received enough votes from people reading about the corruption in the courthouse and those angry about liberals and others to gain the edge over Chambers.

Two years later the outcome of Tommy Chambers' race for an even higher office is interesting to consider when analyzing recent political results. Chambers, much like Hinch, had never really affiliated himself with a political party. Before his run in 2008, Chambers struggled with what party to run in. A Catholic with pro-life and other conservative values in tow, Chambers was advised by many he could never help build a better Liberty County if he didn’t win. Knowing in 2008 Liberty County hadn’t had a Republican Judge since the 1800’s, Chambers decided he would run as a Democrat. Looking back at Liberty County history those running as Republicans in the 2008 election were the beneficiaries of over a decade of local volunteers re-vitalizing the Local Republican Party and the emergence of citizens becoming very verbal and very aggressive in expressing their displeasure with all of the wrongdoing by public officials. Coupled with the usual liberal garbage coming out of Washington, the weight of the Donkey Party was more than some of the local candidates could carry. Chambers was left in the losers column that election night and Wes Hinch, a relatively unknown attorney with his strongest base of support coming from a very equally divided (Democrats and Republicans) First Baptist Church of Liberty.

But to evaluate that 2008 race properly, any political consultant would tell us to review the 2010 races. Chambers to his credit never became bitter and never gave up his dream of public service. In fact, in 2009 Chambers began to talk about running for a higher office. Again he was told he should run as a Democrat. But local Republicans had had enough success in the 2008 races that Chambers decided to win or lose on the ticket he felt most reflected his values. The rest is history. Chambers won in the most lopsided victory on record for a Republican running for an open seat. He didn’t just defeat Zack Zbranek, in political numbers, he totally crushed the Democrat despite his high name I.D. and his pedigree from a well known family steeped in law degrees and political connections.

What does all of this mean – or some might be more direct and say “what is your point”? The point is Liberty County Republicans have now entered a new phase. Local races used to have either one or sometimes no Republican candidates. During the century of Democrats dominating every elective office in Liberty County, voters – even conservatives – usually had choices created by the choices in the Democratic primary. Those primary contests, unlike Republican primaries, were lively and were everything we see and experience in politics. Local Republicans, especially the party workers, need to realize that is what comes with winning. Now the Hinches and the Chambers of future races can look for their political fight to come in March as well as November. Maybe, as in Chambers case, the last election will show so much support that there is no opposition. But there are other people with a desire to serve and a dream to help lead this to county.

Those who want the Republican Party to just be one big homogenous lovefest need to realize this country became the most powerful and successful nation in history not in spite of vigorous political contests every two to four years, but because of those contests. And any student of history knows our contests here in Liberty County are nothing unusual in tone or in substance.

Local Republicans, like the subject of our upcoming first critique, County Attorney Wes Hinch, will have to learn the way they get elected or re-elected is not by silencing their critics, but by answering them. Not everyone may agree with the answers, but Liberty County should never go back to a time when we do not take a close look at job performance. KSHN and party officials should not have an unchallenged influence in choosing our leaders.

Stay tuned for a critique of County Attorney and what he has done and not done in his 25 months in office.

REPUTATION’S RISKED IN HISTORY

Here they go again despite all kinds of defaming untrue rumor mongering gossip. But like the modern day heroes of democracy and free enterprise that they are, the Tea Party activists will worry about their reputations and their legacy at a later time. This is no time to look at the long term. Heaven is recording what they are doing right now and no one messes with the truth there. The tea partiers are clamoring for the debt-ridden government to slash spending say nothing should be off limits. Tea party-backed lawmakers echo that argument, and they're not exempting the military's multi billion-dollar budget in a time of war.

Add their efforts and their decision to act now, regardless of the political consequences, to a list that includes George Washington and the founding fathers and Jesus and the disciples.

GEORGE WASHINGTON was hunted like a criminal in the American Revolution by King George and all of the resources of his country. He would have hung and been vilified in history had they been able to catch him. His beloved Mount Vernon only survived as a result of a cousin negotiating in a way Washington had left strict orders not to. Washington known for the high value he put on his reputation, was willing to risk all for what he knew to be right. It was not in the job description of any job he had. Honor and a love of liberty and a keen sense of justice drove Washington to look past today and fight for principles that would make a better tomorrow for us all.

For those who want to be honorable but may be lacking the perspective to do the same or who would act like they never have been put in the same situation, let’s get real. Injustice and corruption is around us, whether we want to admit it or not. Perhaps some have been selective in their reading of the Bible. After all they could simply focus on Proverbs where it says “a good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” Or the book of Ecclesiastes says “a good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.”

But those scriptures are in The Book that tell us all about people who were hunted and killed by authorities. There reputation was horrible. These ideas about a good reputation were read by many of the heroes of the New Testament who were thought to be heretics and crazy.

These men did not fall in line with recent ideas about civil discourse either. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the leaders of His day "You snakes! You poisonous snakes! How can you escape being condemned to hell?”

These men did not over emphasize what went on here on earth. They did things today because of the everlasting effects their actions would have – on society and on their own souls. Paul in his letter to Timothy says “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.” If a reputation is more valuable than riches, but we are warned not to over value riches, doesn’t it follow that we should not over value our reputation? Of course it does, there are many places in the Bible that warn against seeking the man’s approval over God’s.

I thank God for these leaders in the Tea Party. I am sure they are imperfect and will make mistakes, but I would rather be like Peter than all of the people of his day that did less than him. If people want to demonize those who are challenging authority and claim they are more honorable, so be it. It has been going on for thousands of years.