Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grand jury subpoenas top county officials in DWI probe

Remember that "runaway" grand jury investigating the HPD BATmobiles? Well, they're baaack...

The county judge and two commissioners have been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury. It is believed that the grand jury is looking into the contract the county entered into with the Texas Department of Public Safety to administer breath test machines in Harris County. The county entered into the contract after Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos urged county commissioners to dump Lone Star College after former HPD crime lab technical supervisor Amy Culbertson spilled the beans on the malfunctioning breath test machines in HPD's BATmobiles.

First a word for those of y'all not from Texas. The county judge isn't really a judge, he's the head of the county government. The commissioners are the elected representatives who run the county.

Ostensibly, the reason for the change in maintaining the breath test machines was a cost-saving function. The county's contract with the DPS is $330,000 for the first year versus $342,000 with Lone Star College. But there's more to the calculation than that. Remember, DWI is big business in Texas and running the breath test program is no exception. For every DWI conviction obtained without the use of DPS technicians, the state reimburses the county $22. Doesn't sound like a lot on the surface but, between 2008 and 2010, the county was reimbursed $220,000 by the state. Do the math; the DPS contract will cost the county more money in the long run.

The change had nothing to do with saving the county money. The change was retaliation against Lone Star College for hiring Amy Culbertson after she left the Houston Police Department. The change was retaliation against Ms. Culbertson for testifying truthfully about the problems with the BATmobiles.

Ms. Lykos and her minions got caught withholding Brady material from defense attorneys handling DWI cases. Ms. Lykos has blamed Ms. Culbertson and she has blamed HPD for the fiasco. All of that is an attempt to deflect attention away from the actions of the Harris County DA's Office.

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