Dallas constable sounds defiant as probe continues

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by BYRON HARRIS / WFAA-TV

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wfaa.com

Posted on February 4, 2010 at 10:08 PM

DALLAS — It was one week ago that authorities arrested Precinct 5 deputy constable Howard Watson on charges he bribed women with warrants for sex.

Watson was a loyal lieutenant of Constable Jaime Cortes, fueling speculation that a Dallas County grand jury is zeroing in on the boss.

Cortes has been under investigation by Dallas County Commissioners, and now by the district attorney.

Among the allegations: That he was using his deputy constables to campaign on county time, an activity News 8 may have caught on tape at a political rally last September.

Now, News 8 has obtained a copy of an audio tape that sources say is Cortes addressing his officers about the ongoing investigation.

"The rumors about officers being arrested and indictments coming down... if they come down, I'm still gonna be here," said the voice on the tape.

Later in the meeting, the voice described as Cortes discusses the possibility of his own arrest.

"If it comes down on me, I am here. If I have to take a ride, I'll come back. But I'm gonna still be here, all right? Indictments are indictments — that's it."

But the voice on the tape also makes it clear he is aware some of his officers may be the ones working against him.

"If you are on the other side, I know who you are. Let me say it again in case you are recording it: I know who you are."

While some officers see that as bold intimidation, others see it as predictable rhetoric in a heated political race.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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