Special prosecutor named amid threats in constable probe




Posted on June 2, 2010 at 9:40 PM


DALLAS — Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins recused himself from an investigation of Dallas County Constables Wednesday after his office said a plot to "harm" him and other county officials was uncovered.

Watkins appointed a special prosecutor in the case to look into what an assistant called "an outrageous scheme."

The allegations against Dallas County Constables Jaime Cortes and Derick Evans bribes, misuse of office and abuse of employees. They have been the subject of investigations and conjecture for more than a year now.

And what about Watkins? Is he investigating those allegations?  If not, is he just protecting fellow elected Democrats?

Terri Moore, Dallas County First Assistant District Attorney, outlined the new allegations coming from one of the witnesses in the constable investigation.  "There is an outrageous scheme that sought to personally harm Dallas County public officials," she said.

While Watkins is one of those officials, he was not on hand for the announcement that he is recusing himself from further involvement in the constables' investigation.

So what about this threat of personal harm? "There's not a hit out on anybody," Moore said.  "It's not like it's about killing anybody;  it's about lying and scheming and conniving and discrediting and doing that kind of harm."

Moore offered no names and few specifics.

But still it was enough that now comes former cop, former state lawmaker, current plaintiff's attorney Ted Lyons to take over as special prosecutor and presumably clean up a mess he admittedly knows little about.

"My awareness stems from reading the paper, OK, and watching the news," Lyons told reporters.

Friends and associates say Lyons will work hard. If there's a case to be made, he'll make it  —  and at no charge to taxpayers.

But perhaps most importantly, he will bring an end to the question of whether the constable allegations are being actively pursued.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com