Well, this explains a lot.
Longtime Harris County Precinct One Constable Jack Abercia and two of his staffers were arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of violating several federal laws, including conspiring to accept bribes and using the county office for private gain.
Federal agents arrested Abercia, 78, Chief Lieutenant Weldon Kenneth Wiener, 72, and Office Chief Michael Butler, 56. The trio is scheduled to appear in Houston federal court within about an hour.
A 13-count federal indictment returned on Tuesday and unsealed after the arrests accuses Abercia and Wiener of soliciting and accepting money from companies interested in running background checks on prospective employees through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, which is restricted to law enforcement use.
The indictment charges 11 specific acts of misuse of NCIC in November, but it also alleges the practice had been going on in the constable’s office for a longer period of time.
Abercia and Butler are also charged with bribery in connection with the hiring of an otherwise unqualified deputy constable in return for a $5,000 bribe in July 2010.
We first heard about the FBI looking into Abercia and his office in mid-December. Just before the end of the year, Abercia announced he would not run for re-election, though he had previously filed to do so, citing his health and denying that the investigation had anything to do with it. This week he submitted his resignation, which was to take effect on January 31. I daresay today’s events have cast all of these prior ones in a different light. You can see a copy of the indictment here. It’s not as sexy as some of the other crimes committed by elected officials around here lately, but if true they’re every bit as tawdry and disgraceful. For shame, shame on all three of them. Hair Balls has more.