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TX: Prison investigator says senator threat a scam
Wed Mar 27, 2013 14:45

Prison investigator says senator threat a scam
By MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press | March 26, 2013 | Updated: March 26, 2013 9:03pm

HOUSTON (AP) — A death threat against a Texas lawmaker that was reported by a prison inmate turned out to be a scam, prison official said Tuesday.

Sen. John Whitmire, who heads the legislative committee in charge of Texas prisons, was in no danger from the inmate, said Bruce Toney, inspector general of the Department of Criminal Justice. The inmate was a confidential informant who tried to recruit other people to devise a plot to kill the senator so he could report them, believing it could earn him cash or a reduced prison sentence, Toney said.

"There was no credible threat," Toney said. "He was trying to work an angle on us."

The inmate's name was not released, but Toney said he was a confidential informant "who in the past had provided information, some of it credible."

"Once we started investigating, we found it basically was a scam he was working to try to get a bunch of ridiculous things for himself," Toney said. "And we found he was the one actually trying to get other people interested so he could get them in trouble."

The inmate now risks facing a charge of lying to a police officer. At a minimum, authorities would seek to rescind his prison "good time" credits that could have reduced his sentence, Toney said.

Whitmire, a Houston Democrat, is the Senate's longest serving member and is the longtime chairman of theSenate Criminal Justice Committee. He was in a committee meeting in Austin late Tuesday afternoon and not immediately available for comment, his office said.

On Monday, he disclosed he was told last week that an informant reported a "hit" against him because of complaints about the conditions on death row. Whitmire said that according to the informant, the Mexican Mafia prison gang was plotting to kill him as he ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant.

Whitmire said any threat needed to be taken seriously, particularly in the wake of last week's slaying of Colorado corrections chief Tom Clements, who was fatally shot at his home. The suspected gunman, Evan Ebel, died in a shootout in Texas.

"I think one of his motivating factors was seeing what had happened in Colorado," Toney said, speculating the inmate believed prison officials would be more inclined to believe his information because of the Colorado event.

Toney said inmates implicated by the informant passed polygraph tests. The informant prisoner did not.

"Wasn't too smart on him," Toney said. "Like we wouldn't check out everything to the n'th degree."

Whitmire was the target of a threatening call in 2008 from a death row inmate using a smuggled cellphone. The inmate was caught but the incident prompted Gov. Rick Perry to order an unprecedented lockdown of the entire 150,000-inmate prison system, the nation's largest state corrections department, for a sweep to collect contraband items.

  • Re: Richard Tabler timmy, Wed Feb 10 17:12
    This is the most recent as it was announced today. You may recall Tabler's sister had smuggled a cell phone into him and he made a call to John Whitmire threating his wife and daughters.
    • TX: Prison investigator says senator threat a scam — Petra, Wed Mar 27 14:45
    • Re: Richard Tabler Carolina Gonzalez, Thu Feb 11 22:29
      Tabler's sister did not smuggle a phone, a guard did....important detail because dr inmates in TX do not touch anyone but guards. Even when you buy food from vending machines the food is taken by the ... more
      • Re: Richard Tabler xkittenx, Sat Feb 13 18:37
        Hi Caroline,I also read that it was his mother and sister who paid a guard to smuggle the phone in i also read that a few guards were sacked over the phone case.
      • Re: Richard Tabler timmy, Fri Feb 12 10:35
        Well of course the guard was the go between but it was the sister who gave the phone to the guard. It is fair to say the sister smuggled the phone to Tabler via the guards.
        • Re: Richard Tabler Carolina Gonzalez, Sat Feb 13 00:29
          The sister might have paid for it but I think that mentioning the guard is important in all this, especially when it is not an isolated event.
    • Re: Richard Tabler Micky, Wed Feb 10 19:25
      Thank you Timmy I am forever in your dept for this information. I can imagine all DR inmates are happy to rid him too. (I will get called a lair and a fake again on this statement , but hey I am... more
      • Re: Richard Tabler Carolina Gonzalez, Thu Feb 11 22:40
        So many generalizations on this are right SOME may be happy....just some..... DR inmates live with no phones because they have no access to them. If phones were offered as they are in... more
        • Re: Richard Tabler timmy, Fri Feb 12 10:39
          Most on DR say they are innocent also. Some would tell you every person on DR was wrongly convicted and we all know that is not true. There is a reason why inmate are not allowed cell phones and... more
          • Re: Richard Tabler xkittenx, Sat Feb 13 17:21
            What about the innocent on DR?
          • Re: Richard Tabler Carolina Gonzalez, Sat Feb 13 00:27
            I know plenty of guilty man on death row. Not all of them say they are innocent and I am sure some say it when they are not. No doubt. I believe inmates should have the right to make some phone... more
      • Re: Richard Tabler timmy, Wed Feb 10 20:08
        I'll respect your privacy and not ask but I am sorry your going through this.
        • Re: Richard Tabler Micky, Thu Feb 11 22:44
          Thank you for that. I really do appreciate what you said, I would also appreciate it if you wouldn't bring children into any subject when it comes to DP. I say this for a reason. My life as a... more
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