13 Undercover

Was there another boss at Precinct 1?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The waste we're uncovering at the constables office is already paying dividends for taxpayers.

At least two deputies are under interal investigation at Precinct 1 now -- more fallout from that corruption scandal, and there's been another big resignation.

Jack Abercia may have been the guy in charge at Precinct 1, but was there another boss in the shadows? This guy...

"How powerful is he there?" we asked retiring Pct. 1 Sgt. Rita Britt.

"Extremely powerful," she said.

His name is Mike Abercia. Where have I heard that last name before? Oh, he's the constable's son.

"When Mike Abercia wants to get something done, it usually gets done," Britt said.

"People are afraid of him?" we asked.

"Very," she said.

Afraid of the guy in charge of the precinct's patrol cars? Behind closed doors, they called him untouchable. Even the precinct's internal affairs officer complained he wasn't allowed to investigate Mike Abercia.

"Who is more crooked -- him or his son?" a deputy asked ex-Pct. 1 Chief Michael Butler says on hidden camera.

"I'd say it's a toss up," Butler says.

On paper, Chief Michael Butler was Abercia's boss, but the constable's kid set his own schedule, a shift that began at 4 o'clock in the morning.

"Because he gets calls, they tell me all during the night, on cars breaking down and them needing help," Jack Abercia said.

"Try telling him (expletive) about his son. He don't want to hear it," Butler says on hidden camera. "And what kind of cars would you be working on at 3 o'clock in the (expletive) morning?"

It's kind of hard to fix Precinct 1 patrol cars then because there were no mechanics on duty. But it was convenient. Michael Abercia had a second security job outside county government that started -- you guessed it -- at noon.

It's not the only reason Michael Butler was worried about what 13 Undercover would find if we took a closer look at all those patrol car records.

"It ain't gonna look good on TV if them (expletive) go out there with that (expletive) inventory sheets and say, 'Where are all these cars? Why are they not in service?'" Butler said.

You mean these cars? We found them parked at a toll road facility off the Northwest Freeway -- more than a dozen Precinct 1 cars. Most have rarely been used; some have never been driven. We found four Crown Vics with 0 miles on them, and they were bought two years ago. Money wasted, while deputies were being laid off.

"Two years? That's a tremendous waste of money," we told Jack Abercia.

"Right, and I know you mentioned my son, but you need to go one step further. Mr. Butler was in charge of that stuff, not me," he replied.

"Did you know about that?" we asked him.

"No I didn't know about it," he said.

"What are you going to say to taxpayers who are going to scream bloody murder?" we asked Harris County Pct. 1 Chief Deputy J.C. Mosier.

"I think they are going to have reason to scream bloody murder in some instances," he replied.

Constables May Walker and Victor Trevino still face ongoing criminal investigations. Both deny wrongdoing. And 13 Undercover, we're still on the trail of what one critic calls a culture of corruption and cronyism here in Harris County.

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