Report details mismanagement by Dallas County constable

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by BRETT SHIPP / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on February 16, 2010 at 1:52 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 17 at 1:11 AM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

DALLAS — An internal investigation by Dallas County Commissioners into alleged abuse of office by Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes was released Monday afternoon.

More than 90 pages of allegations tend to support accusations by deputies and others that Cortes is grossly mismanaging his department.

We've been hearing about this controversial report for months now. Compiled by a private investigator, it was ordered by Dallas County commissioners at a cost to taxpayers of more than $110,000.

It's findings comprise a detailed civil indictment of Constable Cortes, who, some say, is out of control.

The Commissioners' special investigative report is filled with allegations against Cortes. Some are well documented; others are salacious and are based on innuendo and hearsay.

Among the allegations:

  • Cortes forced one of his employees to hire his alleged paramour for off-duty jobs
  • Cortes pressured some of his deputies to work Kwanzaa Fest for free
  • Cortes received kickbacks from a towing company he had a contract with
  • Cortes pressured deputies to campaign for him

News 8 captured video of one of the constable's uniformed employees placing promotional fliers on vehicles at a political rally last September.

County Judge Jim Foster said 23 employees furnished sworn affidavits that Cortes was bending — if not breaking — the rules.

"They were in fear for their jobs," Foster said. "They were also in fear of their personal safety, and they have stepped forward and provided information."

Cortes' attorney Larry Friedman says the constable has broken no laws, and that this investigation is a waste of taxpayers' money.

"There is nothing they can do with this report," Friedman said. "This is politics in its pristine essence. These are personnel matters that should be handled internally."

This is just the first of three investigative reports expected to be released this week. Another focuses on Precinct 1 Constable Derick Evans, and another on the Kwanzaa Fest event.

All of these allegations are civil in nature. When asked what Commissioners will do with the findings, Judge Foster said, "I don't know yet."

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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