Embattled Constable Calls for Judge's Removal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes.

    Less than a week before the primary election, a Dallas County constable accused of corruption is formally calling for the removal of the county's top elected official.

    Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes filed a petition Wednesday to remove Judge Jim Foster from the Dallas County Commissioners Court.

    “I feel that Judge Foster has used his position as county judge to engage in a personal vendetta against me,” Cortes said in a statement.

    Foster and other county commissioners have accused Cortes of abusing the authority of his office.

    County commissioners hired a former FBI agent to investigation allegations of wrongdoing in Cortes' office. A report released last week by the investigator accused Cortes of numerous civil and criminal acts of wrongdoing, including forcing his employees to make campaign donations or work on his political campaign while on duty and accepting bribes from a Dallas towing company.

    Foster ordered two county employees to enter Cortes' office in October and make copies of information from his computer's hard drive during an investigation into Cortes' employment practices.

    Cortes said Foster had no legal authority to do so and compromised the personal information of taxpayers who may have had information on that hard drive.

    In his petition to remove Foster, Cortes likened the search of his computer and office to that of the Watergate scandal, saying Foster is using him to settle old scores from when he worked as a constable.

    “His actions are nothing more than a political smear campaign designed to influence the upcoming primary election," Cortes said. "His actions are illegal, and they are wrong.”

    But Foster said that, as the ranking member of the county commission, he has the authority to order that the hard drive be examined for any potential evidence of wrongdoing because it is county property.

    Foster called the petition for his removal from office baseless and laughable.

    "I think this is a feeble attempt for him to gain some sort of notoriety at the last minute or the 11th hour," he said.

    Both Foster and Cortes face opponents in Tuesday's primary.

    Foster said he will continue to investigate any and all allegations of wrongdoing within the county. He said taxpayers expect that of their elected officials and that he is personally fighting to rid the county of corruption.

    A grand jury is examining the allegations against Cortes.

    NBCDFW's Grant Stinchfield and Lita Beck contributed to this report.

     


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