The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office on Friday dropped criminal charges against eight former Fort Worth police officers involved in a 2009 scandal in which they allegedly falsified traffic tickets to collect overtime they never worked.
"I just felt like justice would be served if I dismissed them because I couldn't locate a lot of the witnesses," said prosecutor David Lobingier. "A lot of the witnesses I could locate, their memories had failed on the particulars of the ticket."
On Friday, the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office released the following statement:
"The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office today dismissed charges against eight Fort Worth Police Officers accused of tampering with governmental records. With the passage of time and upon further investigation, issues have been revealed that affect the viability of this prosecution. These issues were unforeseen upon presentation to the grand jury of the case and include unavailability of witnesses, lack of memory by certain witnesses of the events underlying this offense, and new evidence. Based upon the Tarrant County District Attorney’s high ethical standards, these cases are being dismissed in the interest of justice."
Six of the officers were fired or and three resigned after an internal investigation found they falsified the dates or times on some tickets to make it appear they worked extra hours for a state grant. The officers collected the overtime money for hours they never worked, the department said at the time.
The officers faced charges of tampering with a government record – a felony which could have carried a sentence of up to two years behind bars. They were indicted in 2011. The officers involved were Ronald Wigginton, James McDade, Maurice Middleton, Robert Peoples, James Dunn, Jonathan Johnson, Marcus Mosqueda, and Herman Young.
"The evidence had evaporated, so I felt like this was the right thing to do," Lobingier said in explaining why the charges were dropped.
When asked if the officers would be eligible for rehire due to the charges being dropped, the city manager's office issued the following statement:
“While we respect the District Attorney’s process and decision, it will have no bearing on the employment action taken by the city."