A Waco Police Department internal investigation to determine if a veteran drug enforcement investigator lied about the use of confidential informants at the behest of his supervisor has concluded with no major disciplinary action against either officer.
Waco Drug Enforcement Unit Cmdr. Clare Crook, a 37-year department veteran, and investigator David Starr, a 26-year department veteran, have been on administrative leave with pay since February after the department and McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna initiated investigations of Starr’s cases.
While Reyna’s office conducted a review of Starr’s cases pending in his office, former Police Chief Brent Stroman asked Texas Rangers to investigate whether Starr lied about the use of confidential informants to obtain arrest and search warrants.
Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said Thursday that the internal investigation was completed recently and that Crook and Starr will remain on administrative leave with pay depending on what, if anything, Reyna’s office does with the results of the Rangers investigation.
Neither Reyna nor his first assistant, Michael Jarrett, returned phone calls Thursday.
In response to an open records request from the Tribune-Herald seeking the results of the city’s internal investigation, Assistant City Attorney Judith Benton said no information is available under Civil Service and Texas Government Code regulations.
If one or both officers had been fired or suspended, information could have been made public, Benton said.
Less-severe actions, such as a private reprimand, are personnel matters and not considered public information, she said.
A source with knowledge of both the Ranger and police internal investigations said Crook was “totally cleared” in both probes.
Crook did not return phone messages Thursday. Starr could not be reached.
While the dual investigations were proceeding, prosecutors in Reyna’s office either dismissed outright or were forced to offer defendant-friendly plea bargains in about 20 cases investigated by Starr, courthouse sources said.
An employee in the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined comment on the matter.
Waco attorney Edward Vallejo said his client, a Mexican national, benefitted from the situation after he was caught with 500 grams of cocaine. Reyna’s office dismissed the charges.
“A dismissal was made by the district attorney’s office, and no reason was given other than, generally, that it was in the interest of justice,” Vallejo said. “When your client has that much dope and he is looking at a first-degree felony and up to life in prison and he gets a dismissal, you don’t ask too many questions. At that point, he was happy to be deported back to Mexico. My client was dumbfounded.”
Another case involving Starr that was dismissed by prosecutors involved almost 5 pounds of methamphetamine, sources said.
Reyna sent a letter to defense attorneys in February after Starr was placed on administrative leave. Reyna said inconsistencies in reports and affidavits from Starr in two cases led to the investigation.
“The report and sworn affidavit reference an ‘interdiction’ operation conducted by the Waco PD Drug Enforcement Unit,” Reyna’s letter said. “After discussion with the detective, it was revealed that there was not an interdiction operation, and the arrest of the defendants was made pursuant to information received from a confidential informant. Detective Starr indicated to prosecutors that he was apprehensive about wording the report and affidavit this way but was ordered to do so.”