Imagine you’re a contractor who shows up at a job site and on your first day of work you get arrested and charged with engaging in organized crime just because some dirty cops wanted to retaliate against the people who own the business. That’s pretty much what happened to Israel Curtis.
Since 2015, I’ve blogged about how officers of the Montgomery County Auto Theft Task Force botched a televised raid on an automobile auction in Anderson, Texas. Mr. Curtis, a professional auctioneer, was hired to conduct the auction, and today he filed a federal lawsuit against Grimes County Sheriff Donald Sowell, Grimes County DA Tuck McLain, and former Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Gage, among others.
As I reported back in October, all criminal charges were dismissed against Mr. Curtis. According to Mr. Curtis, Lt. Sclider admitted that Mr. Curtis got “caught up” in the arrests because they needed at least three people to bring organized crime charges against business partners Les Shipman and Jerry Williams, but even the felony charges against Mr. Shipman and Mr. Williams were reduced to a single Class C misdemeanor each, i.e., the equivalent of a traffic ticket.
As explained in an earlier lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Shipman, Lt. Sclider and his task-force flunkies had a longstanding grudge against him. A total of fifty-six cars were seized from the 2015 auction, and Lt. Sclider implied on television that they were stolen, but in reality none of them were stolen. Last October, 12th District Judge Donald Kramer ordered the cars returned to Mr. Shipman and Mr. Williams.
Incidentally, I learned this afternoon that Lt. Sclider has been transferred and is no longer the commander of the task force. Maybe the new Montgomery County sheriff, Rand Henderson, decided he didn’t want to be held liable for a loose cannon.