Dallas County constable's lieutenant, wife arrested




Posted on January 27, 2010 at 11:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 27 at 11:49 PM

DALLAS — A Dallas County grand Jury indicted Deputy Constable Howard Watson on nine criminal counts Wednesday. His wife faces three additional counts.

Watson, 66,  is not only the subject of an investigation by Dallas County Commissioners and the district attorney, he is also the focus of a News 8 investigation into alleged improper activities at the office of Constable Jaime Cortes.

Watson is behind bars, and one top official says others might not be far behind.

The allegations against Watson primarily  center on sex.

He is charged with two counts of sexual assault, two counts of official oppression, two counts of bribery, two counts of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and tempering with a government record.

The indictment says Watson tried to bribe two women, asking them for sex in exchange for tearing up their arrest warrants.

In the course of a News 8 investigation into other allegations, we watched on January 15 as Watson made a traffic stop on a female driver using his personal vehicle equipped with flashing police lights.

The video shows Watson engaged in a light-hearted conversation with the female before letting her go without issuing her a citation.

Watson is the first person officially charged in what is thought to be part of a much larger investigation into alleged corruption within the office of his boss, Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes.

Dallas County Judge Jim Foster says he is glad to see that District Attorney Craig Watkins is taking the corruption allegations seriously.

"We have 60 employees, approximately,  for some have been lodging serious concerns and I think those employees were giving up hope," Foster said.

Among the allegations against Constable Cortes: That he forced many of his employees to campaign for him on county time.

Last September, News 8 videotaped some of his employees in uniform handing out promotional flyers at a Labor Day political rally.

Cortes declined to comment on Watson's arrest, but his  spokesman said this is in no way indicative on any involvement by the constable.

"If it was true that Constable Cortes was involved with this, he also would have been arrested today, and obviously that didn't happen," said attorney Peter Schulte.  "So for the involvement of Constable Cortes, there's no way he would have known."

Shulte says Watson's primary job was to serve warrants.

But in the course of our investigation, we observed Watson on numerous occasions leaving work soon after arrival and spending a good part of the day parked at his own apartment.

Watson was arrested before we were able to ask for an explanation.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com