In Focus

Traffic violator turns into confidential informant?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's the story of a way out of a traffic ticket that seems hard to believe. A single mom stopped by Friendswood police for a bad lane change ends up changing into a confidential drug informant.

It was dinner time and this single mom from Friendswood wanted to pick up some KFC. She didn't signal a lane change and soon was pulled over.

"This is the first time I've been pulled over and the first time I've dealt with anything like this in my life," the woman said.

The traffic ticket would've cost a couple hundred bucks, at the most, to get out of. The reason we're telling her story is because her traffic ticket turned into a secret undercover deal to buy drugs for the Friendswood police.

"I was agreeing to do three buys for him to get out of my insurance and inspection citations," she said.

"You were agreeing to become a drug snitch?" we asked.

"Yes," she said.

During the traffic stop, Friendswood police officers found a brand new glass pipe in her car with a price tag attached and they returned it to her. They also found a bottle of her prescription medication Suboxone, an anti-addiction medication. She was prescribed Suboxone after getting off Vicodin for dental pain.

After the stop, officers took the woman to a Friendswood police station, put her in a holding cell and strip searched her.

"She made me bend over, she looked everywhere, she didn't find anything," the woman said.

It'd been four hours since she left her son without adequate supervision while she went to get dinner. She was only supposed to be gone 15 minutes.

"I actually begged and begged and begged and begged for them to let me call my mom to go get my son," the woman said.

Police offered her a deal.

"I had two choices, that they were going to either arrest me, or I could agree to do some controlled buys for him," the woman said.

From single mom without a stain on her record to drug snitch in just a few hours. The next day she made that undercover buy alone, nervous, scared for her safety, and, she says, without any way to communicate with a police officer outside in case something went bad.

"I was scared for my safety," the woman said.

She got $100 worth of meth, turned it in to cops and then called a lawyer to get her out of a deal she now knows she never should have made in the first place.

But when the lawyer started pushing to get that woman out of the undercover deal, the Friendswood Police Department pushed back, essentially threatening to give her name to the drug dealer.

"He would make sure to get an affidavit and the warrant to arrest the girl. He would try to bust her and he would make sure to tell her that I was the one who ratted her out," the woman said.

It's hard to believe, but a text message from the Friendswood detective says it would be up to the Brazoria County DA if they would have to name their source. He said it on the phone with the woman's defense attorney as well. The lawyer recorded that call and gave it to us.

"We can go ahead and just file a warrant, based on the one controlled buy that she did and name her in the warrant," said Friendswood Police Chief Bob Wieners on the recording.

Police officers haven't yet and now say they won't. But they do say this is a common practice in Friendswood, turning traffic tickets into drug informant deals.

"We work plenty of Class C contracts," Wieners said.

They do about one a month, the chief told us on the phone, deals his city prosecutor knows nothing about. Chief Weiners confirmed the deal he made with this woman but said we don't know the whole story.

"But please don't think that you telling me you have a side of the story without divulging any of it is somehow clearing the air," we told Weiners.

Since he wouldn't share it with us, we reached out to the Friendswood city manager and the city attorney, asking them to share any facts we should know before reporting the woman's concern. They both said this is an ongoing police investigation matter and they weren't going to tell us, or you, anything about how or why their police department turned a ticket into a trip into the underworld.

"I feel like because they knew I had so much to lose that I'd want to agree to it. I just thought that's why they were doing it," the woman said.

We've already heard from another driver who was offered a similar deal just weeks ago in Friendswood. When we checked with area prosecutors and a few other law enforcement agencies, this apparently is not a widespread practice.

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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friendswood, in focus, ted oberg
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