13 Undercover

New details on FBI's probe into Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's Office

Saturday, December 17, 2011

We have new exclusive details about that FBI investigation underway at a veteran constable's office, and if you were one of the hundreds of cops who got laid off this year, you'll want to pay close attention.

Thirty-year-old Allen James likes guns, a lot. Just check out his Facebook page. In 2009, James decided he wanted to have the gun along with a Harris County badge.

Precinct 1 personnel records show he'd been turned down by -- count 'em -- seven law enforcement agencies before he went downtown to Jack Abercia's office for a job interview. A team of deputies and commanders do the screening there.

To be kind, James' interview did not go well. And it wasn't just the "slumped posture," his "defensiveness" during the session, his "immaturity" or "lack of direction." One reviewer wrote "subject is a gun fanatic...almost to the point of obsession."

No one recommended his hiring, his grade poor, one reviewer making it clear James would be a "liability, not an asset to the department."

But guess what? Allen James was hired the very next month. The FBI wont confirm or deny what's happening, but we know from multiple sources the FBI is investigating possible bribes to Precinct 1 commanders relating to the hiring.

Among those under scrutiny are the two of the highest-ranking commanders there -- the chief deputy Michael Butler and his boss, Constable Jack Abercia. Both have declined to talk to us.

If true, it's the worst-case scenario. Who gets to wear and keep the badge? Who gets to get promoted in a Harris County Constable's Office?

We've been exposing potential problems since September: evidence deputies are asked to contribute money to political campaigns and the charities of at least two constables; some reserves and police IDs given out to large campaign contributors. And now, the Allen James controversy.

For months now, 13 Undercover has been investigating constables. The reports have helped to spark three separate investigations by both federal and local authorities.

Sources tell us the FBI is looking into bribery allegations at Pct. 1 Constable Jack Abercia's office. Meanwhile, the Harris County district attorney and the county attorney are both investigating Pct. 6 Constable Victor Trevino and Pct. 7 Constable May Walker.

The allegations against Trevino are potential misuse of charity funds, county personnel and county equipment. The Walker investigation centers around the possible misuse of county equipment and personnel, as well as possible illegal fundraising.

Click here to see what the review board thought of Allen James' interview.

Click here to see the federal subpoena served to Precinct 1.

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