Former Harris Co. constable, staffers enter guilty pleas
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Former Harris County Precinct One Constable Jack Abercia has entered a guilty plea, as have two of his staffers, the result of a 13 Undercover investigation.
This morning, Abercia, 79, who was arrested in January of last year, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of exceeding authorized computer access.
Bribery charges will be dropped as a result of this plea bargain, but it's an embarrassing end to the career of one of Harris County's longest-serving lawmen.
Leaving court, Abercia said nothing. It's a contrast that to his full-blown denial of any wrongdoing during a 13 Undercover investigation which sparked the criminal charges.
"I ain't done anything," Abercia told us then. "I will take a polygraph on it. I'll take a polygraph on it. Nobody brought me no money at all."
But federal prosecutors say Abercia took $9,000 in a scheme where he repeatedly used county crime computers to do background checks for private companies. That was in November 2011, but the government says this had gone on for some time.
After one payment, prosecutors say investigators caught Abercia saying, "God willing this money will go toward my elevator." They tell us he'd planned to add that to his home for health reasons but never did. He was 78 then. To this day, he has severe health issues, including cancer.
"A good man, made a mistake, accepted responsibility," Abercia's attorney Rusty Hardin said.
Abercia retired following his arrest. He entered a guilty plea to 11 counts of exceeding authorized computer access. Two of his top staffers, Lt. Ken Weiner and Chief Deputy Michael Butler, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
"You'll have to talk to my attorney," Butler told us.
They admitted involvement in the background checks. U.S. attorneys say Weiner was paid $1000 for his role.
"Now it's up to the court to decide what he thinks is appropriate," Hardin said.
If convicted, the frail Abercia could be sent to prison for years, what could be the rest of his life.
Prosecutors say each of the men could be sent to prison for up to five years for each guilty plea they made. It's possible though that could also get only probation. They could also be fined up to $250,000.
A judge is scheduled to sentence them on November 26.
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