PETERS FACES FEDERAL DRUG PROSECUTION
Fred Peters Jasper County Precinct 6 Constable Fred Peters' problems continued late last week as a petition was filed for his removal from office following his third arrest in 2006.
The beleaguered constable, who Jasper County Sheriff Ronnie McBride says he hasn't seen in more than a year, was arrested in Silsbee July 5 as the result of a month-long drug sting. According to Silsbee police, Peters, 59, was the target of the sting and was arrested at the Pinewood Inn and charged with delivery of a controlled substance.
He is being held on state charges and bond is $25,000. However, federal charges are expected to be filed and the U.S. Attorney's office has placed a nobond hold on Peters.
A petition to remove Peters from his constable post has been filed in Jasper County District Court. Judge Joe Bob Golden recused himself as required since Peters is an elected Jasper County official and referred the petition to regional administrative Judge Olen Underwood in Montgomery County ( see related story ).
Late Monday afternoon, Underwood instructed county officials to appoint a prosecutor for the case. County commissioners approve the appointment of District Attorney Ted Walker for the case.
A hearing on Peters' removal from office will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m. in the District Court with Underwood presiding.
"I was very surprised at the ( Peters ) arrest," Silsbee Police Chief C.T. Bartosh said. "I've been in law enforcement for 29 years and Mr. Peters is someone that I am very much acquainted with.
"We went into the situation not knowing how it would turn out," Bartosh said. "We didn't know if he was trying to conduct his own undercover operation, but obviously he was not doing that."
It was the third arrest of Peters by three different Southeast Texas law enforcement agencies. The first two arrests were misdemeanors with the initial one, theft by check in Jefferson County, being dismissed after the Jasper County constable made restitution.
Peters' second arrest came June 27 in Lumberton where he was charged with public intoxication. He was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by Lumberton Police Department officers.
Last week's apprehension of Peters came in a joint investigation by the Silsbee Police Department and the Beaumont Police Department narcotics/vice unit. The investigation, officers said, centered on Peters and his alleged drug activity.
Confidential informants mentioned Peters to Silsbee police officers as someone in possession, use and sale of methamphetamines. Bartosh said similar reports were being fielded by Beaumont police during the same time frame.
"His name was coming up several times in different locations in illegal drug activity," Bartosh said.
In the Silsbee case, Peters is accused of buying methamphetamines from an informant at the Pinewood Inn, located off U.S. Highway 96. Bartosh said audio and video surveillance recorded the drug deal and Peters was arrested as he left the motel room at about 10 p.m.
"I wasn't there when he was arrested but I'm sure he was surprised," Bartosh said.
Police found about a gram of meth in Peters' possession. Officers believe he was going to transport the meth to another individual.
Bartosh said that while Peters is charged and held under a state statute, he expects the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to investigate the case and federal charges to be filed.
"The U.S. Attorney's office is reviewing the case in as much detail as they can to determine if they are going to let him out ( of jail ) or not," Bartosh said.
Last Thursday, July, 6, U.S. Magistrate Earl Hines signed a complaint against Peters for a federal charge of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.
The state charge of delivery of a controlled substance carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a $10,000 fine. However, a federal conviction could mean up to an additional 20 years in a federal prison from which there is no parole or early release.
The state felony charge against Peters must be reported to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education and could result in the suspension of his peace officer's license.
Jasper Newsboy, The (TX)