in Houston, Texas
Shelby County DA Lynda K. Russell traded suspected drug dealers' cash for light prosecution, AP reports
Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011, 04:54PM CST
By Steve Miller
Shelby CountyShelby Co., Texas

The district attorney of Shelby Countyalready under federal investigation over alleged abuse of drug seizure laws, is now accused of extracting cash from accused drug dealers in exchange for leniency on the prosecution end, the Associated Press reports.

Shelby County District Attorney Lynda K. Russell is accused of being an integral cog in the scheme, in which "authorities collected more than $800,000 in less than a year using a practice that essentially let suspects buy their way out of allegations that, if proven, would probably have resulted in prison sentences," according to the story.


Russell is named in a federal lawsuit that alleges law enforcement agents in Shelby County and the town of Tenaha illegally stopped and searched motorists, focusing on "non-white citizens." She pleaded her Fifth Amendment rights in a deposition in August.

 

According to an August case filing, law enforcement officers in Tenaha would call Russell or her office after making a stop finding drugs to determine "whether to release the individuals, arrest them, seize their property, or return property that had already been seized."


The filing claims that "District Attorney Russell had an agreement with the Tenaha Marshal's office and the Constable's office on what percentage of the seizures the District Attorney would get."


From the AP story:

The system engineered by Shelby County District Attorney Lynda Kaye Russell is now one focus of a federal criminal investigation that is also reviewing whether Russell and other law enforcement officials targeted black motorists for traffic stops.

Interviews, court records and other documents reviewed by The Associated Press show numerous examples of suspects who went unpunished or got unusually light sentences after turning over tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The money from those and other defendants increased the DA's forfeiture account by more than two hundredfold and helped ease a tight budget. The county's former auditor has testified that at least a portion of it was spent on campaign materials, parades, holiday decorations, food, flowers, gifts and charitable contributions.

Four years ago Russell was lauded by the state Attorney General's office for her role in catching an employee who was stealing money from the county's indigent health care fund. Russell took office in 1999.

 

Shelby County sits along the border with Louisiana in the Piney Woods region.


***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.


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Comments
tadd price
Sunday, 11/20/2011 - 09:05AM

This would make a fine corrupt cop movie from the 60-70's

Rose
Saturday, 01/07/2012 - 06:44PM

How can a just legal system allow a suspected criminal to continue to prosecute other suspected criminals? I realize it is innocent until proven guilty but who's to say if she was able to prosecute her other cases without bias. Afterall, there would have to be some kind of balance with the pleas. Did she offer harsher than needed sentences to others to balance out the supposed "light" sentences she gave to these people. HMMMM? I think that all the recent cases that she prosecuted should be revisited!!!.

boogyman
Thursday, 12/27/2012 - 11:43AM

well she sentence my family member to a hundred andseventythree years for drugs i have been in shelny county all my life and i havent seen noone with much time

boogyman
Thursday, 12/27/2012 - 11:50AM

well she sentence my family member to a hundred andseventythree years for drugs i have been in shelny county all my life and i havent seen noone with much time

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