SHELBY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Some observers are calling the practice highway robbery. This is how it works. Motorists of color are stopped by law enforcement. They're searched for illegal drugs. When none are found their personal belongings, generally large amounts of cash are taken. Then the person is asked to sign a waiver forfeiting their belongings in exchange of not having any money laundering charges filed against them. This practice has been seen across the nation. Now its alleged to be happening in the city of Tenaha, with the Shelby County district attorney's office as a partner.
Nacogdoches attorneys David Guillory and Tim Garrigan have filed a civil action suit against Tenaha Deputy City Marshal Barry Washington, the Teneha mayor, Shelby County District Attorney Lynda K Russell and Shelby County Precinct four Constable Randy Whatley. The plaintiff is James Morrow, an Arkansas man who claims he had about $3900 in his wallet and two cell phones taken by Barry Washington. However, attorneys say as many as 200 motorists were affected in similar ways. Guillory alleges, " People with $1500 or $500, no evidence of any drugs or anything like that and they would just take their money and tell them and threaten them with the inconvenience of having to defend themselves against a crime if they contested or they anyway sought to get back their money back. I think that's wrong and a violation of the 4th and 14th amendments. "
Guillory's sleuthing in the district clerk's office raised his suspicions. " We found out what the names of those people were and then we looked in the criminal docket there in Shelby County for the past 24 months to see if any of those people were ever charged with a crime or prosecuted of a crime. The answer is we didn't find anyone. That's what really caught our eye. That's what made it suspicious and that's what made it seem like a situation where it's just a money shakedown operation beside the road with no intent of enforcing crime or criminal laws or anything like that. "
Guillory estimates about 3-million dollars has been taken in the last 24 months. His oddest discovery was a gold crucifix and an incomplete affidavit signed, but not having any property listed at all. " It appears to me they had a standard form ready to be signed and ruled on,but in this case just forgot to fill it out. "