In recent months, the Fort Bend DA’s office has been accused of prosecutorial misconduct. The District Attorney John Healey has denied other accusations he solicited campaign contributions from the family of a suspect.
Now, Healey’s office is playing games with the Texas Public Information Act and the Texas Attorney General. And Dolcefino Consulting is going to tell Ken Paxton how.
For months, special prosecutors from Healey’s office have tried to keep their closed investigation of the proposed Hempstead landfill a secret. In July, Dolcefino Consulting accused Healey’s office of stonewalling the truth.
Now here’s the real question. Are the prosecutors even telling the truth?
The special prosecutors in Healey’s office have asked the Texas Attorney General to help them keep their investigative file secret. They claim the Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis sent them an e-mail in September asking for the files and they consider that a request under the Texas Public Information Act. Under that law, the prosecutors had ten days to ask for a legal opinion. Their request cites grand jury secrecy.
But John Healy’s office didn’t tell the Attorney General the whole story. That’s outrageous and the Fort Bend District Attorney should have to explain the deception.
Last December, a Waller County Jury found former county commissioners conspired to violate transparency laws on the land deal. The sworn testimony raised allegations of possible perjury. The Waller County District Attorney originally had a conflict on the landfill case, but in January the new commissioners’ court waived his conflict. Mathis was ready to launch a new investigation, but needed the files.
If you read the letter to the Texas Attorney General, it looks like Mathis made his request for the records on September 3rd. We have documents proving otherwise. On April 28th a letter from those very special prosecutors denied a request from the Waller County District Attorney for those files.
On July 28th, the very State District Judge who appointed the special prosecutors dismissed them and asked them to return their files to the Waller County District Attorney. Judge Buddy McCaig asked them to return the documents at their earliest convenience.
John Healey’s office didn’t turn the files over. But on September 3rd they sent an e-mail to Mathis asking him which records he wanted. Mathis asked for the entire box. Healey’s prosecutors are using that response to play the Public Information Act game.
“Every voter in Fort Bend County should be looking at this deal. The landfill may be in Hempstead, but the conduct of the special prosecutors in this case should be rejected by the people in Fort Bend County,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
John Healey’s office didn’t tell the Texas Attorney General the whole story. Now he knows it.
Plans to build a 15-story garbage dump along Highway 6 near Hempstead have suffered another major blow tonight.
The Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has filed court papers saying the current landfill application hearing must be dismissed because now everyone knows it did not meet state environmental rules.
Lawyers for the Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead and the City of Hempstead have proven the landfill application was garbage, because it showed the shallow hole for the trash would be dug into the ground water.
That is what residents have been warning about for years, that the landfill site will contaminate the drinking water.
The State Office of Administrative Hearings has not yet ruled, and the TCEQ boss made it clear this is only for the current application before the judge.
“This is just one more nail in the coffin of a landfill deal that stinks more than the trash ever will,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “It is time for those Georgian garbage peddlers to pack their bags and leave the good people of Hempstead alone because they won’t stop fighting…ever.”
Dolcefino Consulting is also calling on Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healy and his band of special prosecutors to stop obstructing the truth. Both a Waller County Judge and the District Attorney have asked for Healy’s special prosecutors to turn over the results of their investigation into the landfill so a new criminal investigation can occur. A Waller County Jury ruled last year several officials held illegal meetings and votes.
“It is sad Mr. Healey and his top prosecutors just don’t want the truth to come out,” says Dolcefino. “I know Fort Bend County voters don’t have a stake in a Waller County landfill investigation, but they should remember this prosecutorial stonewall. The Waller County DA needs to stop stalling and seek a court order. The people of Waller County are being shortchanged by.”
Last April, the Waller County District Attorney asked for the files of the special prosecutors in the Highway 6 landfill case. Those Fort Bend County prosecutors closed their investigation last year without calling a single county official to the grand jury.
That was before sworn testimony in the landfill civil trial. That was before a jury found commissioners violated transparency laws which have criminal penalties.
That is why Elton Mathis wanted to start a new investigation. The special prosecutors said no.
Now Dolcefino Consulting has learned the special prosecutors have been asked again to turn over their files, but this time a District Judge is asking.
In the letter to Fort Bend DA John Healy, Judge Buddy McCaig wrote the Waller County DA is back in charge.
“Please ask those gentlemen to return all such investigative and case files, the Fort Bend D.A. has already had months to make this happen and hasn’t,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “You have to start wondering what they are afraid of. Are they protecting their shoddy investigation or something else?”
It is time for a real investigation. The people of Waller County deserve it. In recent days we have learned the 15-story garbage dump was going to be dug through two feet of precious ground water. That is the environmental disaster landfill opponents have been warning about for years.
We already knew some Waller County officials didn’t tell the truth about their dealings with garbage giant Green Group.
It is time to get to the real bottom of this deal.
The Waller County District Attorney has tried to conduct a new criminal investigation into the controversial Highway 6 landfill plan, but he has been stonewalled. Tonight, the bizarre legal issues keeping the public from getting the whole truth.
Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis believed he had a conflict when the criminal allegations first surfaced in 2013. Mathis asked District Judge Jeff Steinhauser to appoint Special Prosecutors After conferring with Fort Bend DA John Healy, two Fort Bend prosecutors were chosen. The rest is history. The Prosecutors didn’t call a single public official to the grand jury, but did issue a rebuke to the county officials about the secret way they were conducting public business.
Earlier this year, Elton Mathis asked for the investigative file of Special Prosecutors on the landfill case. There were specific reasons. During a civil trial over the landfill in late 2014, evidence of violations of state transparency laws were put into evidence. Sworn testimony raised questions of possible perjury by at least one public official.
On April 28, 2015 the special prosecutors wrote back, “Your request for our file is denied.” Not very neighborly, although they did send best wishes along with their rejection.
The letter obtained by Dolcefino Consulting states the Fort Bend special prosecutors have “exclusive jurisdiction as to criminal matters related to the landfill matters.” In other words, Waller DA butt out.
The Special Prosecutors may have been appointed by one judge, but now they are under the jurisdiction of Waller County Judge Buddy Mccaig because of a reshuffling of the courts.
And that raises new troubling questions.
Judge McCaig recused himself in the civil trial challenging the Waller County Commissioners landfill votes. The Judge didn’t say why, but it came right after he criticized the Dolcefino Consulting investigation that exposed secret communications between commissioners and the landfill bosses.
Now it looks like Judge McCaig retains control over the special prosecutors, not Steinhauser, whose Waller County court docket was transferred to McCaig. So is a judge who claimed he had a conflict of interest in the landfill case now the only person who can free the District Attorney to investigate the landfill case?
“Judge McCaig should immediately take steps to figure this out one way or the other, have the special prosecutors release their files to the Waller County District Attorney and let the sunshine in,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
Hempstead is a small town, but tonight it has a big legal mess on its doorstep.
The Waller County District Attorney has tried to conduct a new criminal investigation into the controversial Highway 6 landfill, but he has been stonewalled. Tonight, we know why and you will never believe who is trying to stop the whole truth from coming out.
It is the special prosecutors from Fort Bend County who were first assigned to probe the smelly landfill deal.
Earlier this year, Elton Mathis asked for their investigative file on the landfill case. On April 28, 2015 the special prosecutors wrote back, ”Your request for our file is denied”. Not very neighborly, although they did send best wishes along with their rejection.
The letter obtained by Dolcefino Consulting states the Fort Bend special prosecutors have “exclusive jurisdiction as to criminal matters related to the landfill matters”. In other words, Waller DA butt out.
The Special Prosecutors were appointed by Waller County Judge Buddy McCaig. Their investigation ended without a single Waller County official being called before the grand jury. Of course, the makeup of the grand jury was under fire too. It included the wife of a county commissioner, a neighbor to another commissioner, and a Mayor of Pattison.
Judge Mccaig later recused himself in the civil trial challenged the Waller County Commissioners landfill votes. The Judge didn’t say why, but it came right after he criticized the Dolcefino Consulting investigation that exposed secret communications between commissioners and the landfill bosses. Even after the recusal, Judge McCaig retained control over the special prosecutors.
Mathis told the special prosecutors that a civil jury in Waller County found law violations which needed investigations and prosecutions. The deposition testimony of former County Commissioners raised questions.
“Waller County voters have turned the page on good ole’ boy politics, but apparently there are some folks in Fort Bend County who still like that old book”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “The special prosecutors did tell Mathis if he had new evidence of criminal activity to tell them what it was. Of course, they would already know what it was if they read the paper.
“It was clear to me a long time ago that those special prosecutors had no interest in doing the right thing, but blocking a prosecutor from doing his job is something entirely different.”
Hempstead- May 1, 2015
Owners of the land for the proposed 15 story garbage dump stand to make up millions on the deal as neighbors fear their property values will be destroyed and the environment threatened. Those are key details Dolcefino Consulting has learned Pintail Landfill has been paying handsomely for the right to hold a 5 year renewable option to eventually buy the landfill site.
The financial details are public for the first time. $500,000.00 to initiate the deal and 5,000.00 a month for three years to the landowners Marengo Family Properties. Last year, Pintail was required to pay another $250,000.OO dollars, and an increasing monthly fee of $7,500.00 a month.
The fifth and final year of the option agreement was set to begin on April 29th, with Pintail paying another $250,000.00 dollars and an increasing monthly fee of $10,000.00 dollars.
If Pintail buys the property it will pay up to Nine Million Dollars ($9,000,000.00) for the acreage, but the Marengo Family Properties also wants in on the garbage business, collecting at least 20 cents a ton for the trash Pintail wants to heap on the Waller County Countryside.
Marengo Family Properties is owned by the Dr. David Donald family. Dr. Donald runs Bayside Urology in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The date of the option agreement is also interesting. February 23, 2011. That is nearly four months before Pintails plans became known to the public, but weeks after phone records prove then Waller County Judge was talking to the landfill boss. By February 23, 2011 plans were already underway by Pintail Owner Green Group to fly select county officials to a landfill site in Georgia. That trip was intentionally kept secret from residents.
Late last year, a Waller County jury ruled county officials violated state transparency laws in the landfill deal. New County officials agreed to pay more than $700,000.OO for the ethics sins of the past leaders, and have now tried to join the most important fight, the battle later this summer to convince the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to reject the landfill permit.
Obviously, the documents would tell you Pintail never expected to be fighting this battle four years later. The landfill site is near predominantly minority communities, but the community has already raised nearly $1.5 million dollars ($1,500,000.00) to fight this proposed garbage dump.
“If it’s about money I sure wish Dr. Donald would give his neighbors and community leaders a chance to buy the land, so it is not a giant trash heap and the aquifer underneath the ground threatened”, says Wayne Dolcefino, the former investigative journalist whose company Dolcefino Consulting has spearheaded probes of the landfill deal “Maybe he should ask his patients if they want him in the garbage business, and while he is at it also talk about whether his actions fit the concept of being a good neighbor”.
Landowners all fear their property values will be destroyed and their drinking water eventually poisoned by the 15 story garbage dump. Parents of Texas A&M students now worry about their kids sharing the highway with garbage trucks. School officials in Prairie View share Hempstead concerns the landfill will destroy the economic future of the area.