The FBI is investigating a Texas sheriff’s office, a woman interviewed by agents says

Nov 2, 2023, 9:27 PM

DALLAS (AP) — The FBI is investigating a Texas sheriff who faced complaints of corruption from his own deputies for years before drawing broader scrutiny for his agency’s response to a mass shooting, according to a woman interviewed by federal agents.

The woman said she’s twice met with a pair of FBI agents in recent months after contacting them about what she feels was the sheriff’s botched investigation of her brother’s killing. Jenifer Jones told The Associated Press the agents gathered records accusing San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers and his staff of wide-ranging misconduct and told her they were looking for potential civil rights violations. During hourslong interviews, Jones said they asked specific questions about cases and events well beyond her brother’s death.

Federal investigators’ interest in the rural sheriff comes after an AP investigation found longstanding accusations that Capers has ignored deputies’ misconduct and neglected basic police work while pursuing asset seizures that boost his office’s $3.5 million budget but don’t always hold up in court.

It’s unclear how far along the FBI investigation is or when it might be concluded. Many federal investigations never result in criminal charges. An FBI spokesperson said the agency neither confirms nor denies investigations.

Capers did not directly respond to calls seeking comment, but his second-in-command said they haven’t heard from agents and that their office is always open to outside scrutiny.

“I look forward to the visit, if they’ll show up here and ask the other half of the story,” Chief Deputy Tim Kean said.

The probe follows years of complaints by the sheriff’s staff to state and federal law enforcement. Capers gained prominence in May while leading the dayslong search for a man who fatally shot five neighbors in the county, which is an hour’s drive from Houston. But he also drew criticism for initially providing inaccurate information about deputies’ response time and from some residents who said they felt neglected by and even fear the sheriff.

The time agents spent with Jones shows they have “a great deal of interest in information she’s providing,” said Michelle Lee, a retired FBI agent in Texas. She noted that’s a strong indicator of an open investigation, but warned that such probes can go on under-the-radar for years.

Jones, 47, said she reached out to the FBI over the summer, hoping the scrutiny of Capers following the shooting would make it easier for her to draw attention to the sheriff’s investigation into her brother’s death.

Jones’ brother, John Wayne Dodge, was fatally shot in 2020 and sheriff’s deputies arrested his son for murder. But in 2022 prosecutors dropped the case “in the interest of justice,” court records show. Jones believes another man is responsible for her brother’s death and was never adequately investigated.

San Jacinto County District Attorney Todd Dillon said information about that man was also presented to a grand jury in 2020. Dillon said that he couldn’t comment on another agency’s investigation, but that after taking office last year he concluded there wasn’t “sufficient evidence or cause to proceed” with the case against Dodge’s son.

In September, Jones said she met with two FBI agents from Bryan, Texas. During the interview, she said they indicated there might not be much they could do about Dodge’s case but asked for her help connecting them with people who may have been wronged by the sheriff.

Jones said she also gave the agents a copy of a police consultant’s report that compares the sheriff’s office to organized crime. The county leaders who paid nearly $50,000 for the report last year disregarded its recommendation to ask the Texas Rangers’ public corruption squad to investigate Capers.

Agents would consider it a “red flag” that officials ignored the conclusion of a report they paid for, Lee said.

Jones provided the names and official email addresses of the agents she met with. A law enforcement official confirmed agents with those names work for the FBI in Bryan. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Jones said she met with them again in October, providing more records and contact information for other people who were interested in talking about the sheriff. She recalled one agent telling her they were looking for cases in which people’s rights were violated.

Jones said she wants county residents to know there is an outside authority they can turn to with complaints about the sheriff.

“I feel like the victims of this county have nowhere else to go,” she said.

United States News

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The FBI is investigating a Texas sheriff’s office, a woman interviewed by agents says