Dallas Police Chief David Brown fired three officers on Friday, including one who they say was piloting a convicted child molester back and forth to St. Louis to meet with a drug kingpin.
The two other firings were for alcohol-related offenses. With these firings, Brown has terminated at least 38 officers since May 2010. He did not comment on the firings.
Senior Cpl. James Jones, 35, consorted with felons and other nefarious characters, used his position to get a rent-free apartment for his girlfriend and conducted computer checks on her in violation of department policy, according to police internal affairs records.
The FBI and Dallas police public integrity investigators began looking into allegations that he was involved in a drug trafficking ring in March 2011, police records show. The criminal investigation ended when authorities determined they couldn’t prove Jones had broken any laws.
Records show that FBI agents believed the investigation had been compromised when “surveillance of Officer Jones had been discovered during an unrelated case.”
“If you’ve kind of exhausted the investigative part of it for the criminal side of it, then you’re next best choice is to fire him based on administrative issues” and hope it is upheld, said former Dallas Police Chief Ben Click, now a police consultant based in Arizona.
Jones, a certified pilot, joined the department in 2005. Investigators found that he repeatedly flew Robert “Big Rob” Russell on trips to and from St. Louis.
Russell, records show, has served time for aggravated sexual assault of a child. Records also show that whenever Jones flew Russell to St. Louis, they would typically go to the apartment of a man identified in police records as the “St. Louis drug kingpin.” That man is a convicted drug trafficker, records show.
Police say he flew Russell to St. Louis 15 times, earning about $2,000 for each trip. “Senior Corporal Jones learned that the convicted felon was on probation, and they had discussions on the price of illegal drugs,” a police statement said.
Jones told investigators that he’d flown Russell in the early 2000s as Russell sought to expand his music recording business. Jones said he only knew Russell’s first name and didn’t know where Russell was or think much of it when he didn’t hear from him for several years. Russell was in prison on the sex conviction.
The St. Louis flights ended in December 2011. The criminal inquiry ended soon afterward.
Investigators also discovered that a friend who introduced Jones to Russell was a booking agent for a recording label linked to gangs and drugs. Pictures of the friend on social media sites show him flashing gang signs.
That friend had been listed as a character reference on Jones’ police employment application.
“For somebody to tell me, ‘I didn’t have a clue as to what these people were doing,’ I don’t find that believable,” Click said. “And if it’s true, he needs to go do something else.”
Jones could not be reached for comment, but in statements to internal affairs investigators, he denied the drug-trafficking allegations and said that a former girlfriend who tipped authorities off to his activities lied about him in retaliation for their breakup.
Officer Abiud Presbytero, 27, was fired after an investigation into a March 17 incident involving a disturbance with family members and was arrested for public intoxication.
In a police squad car, he threatened to break the windows, repeatedly banged his head on the windows, spit inside the car and threatened another officer in profanity-laced terms.
“I am disgusted, embarrassed and appalled by my actions and words that night,” Presbytero wrote in an internal affairs statement about the incident. “My mind and judgment were highly compromised due to my highly intoxicated state that night.”
Presbytero, hired in 2009, recently got a 30-day suspension for another off-duty, alcohol-related incident involving him and another officer months earlier.
Officer Nicole Thomas, 33, was fired over allegedly driving drunk March 9 and fleeing the scene of an accident.
Court records say she slammed her car into the rear of another vehicle in the early-morning hours on eastbound U.S. Highway 175 and then drove away. The impact knocked off the front bumper of Thomas’ vehicle. A Seagoville officer tracked Thomas to her home nearby. A test showed she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15, above the legal limit of 0.08
About eight months earlier, a Prosper police officer had found Thomas sleeping in her car. The officer reported that she smelled of alcohol. He allowed a friend to pick her up since he did not see her driving the vehicle.
Thomas, who was hired in 2005, received a two-day suspension for that incident.