Is Money the Root of All Evil? Prosecutor’s Investigator Takes Bribe
June 30, 2016 (Fault Lines) — Prosecutorial misconduct extends beyond prosecutors themselves, and can be found at lower levels of the prosecution “team.” Anthony Robinson, a 20-year investigator and former chief investigator for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, pled guilty this week to conspiracy to bribe an agent of an organization receiving federal funds after accepting a bribe disguised as an investment in a cattle business in exchange for his official influence.
As chief investigator for Dallas’ district attorney, Robinson was in charge of other investigators and responsible for locating absconders and handling extraditions back to Dallas County. In the course of his duties, Robinson traveled to Las Vegas (at county expense) to retrieve a defendant to face prosecution. On the way back to Dallas, Robinson mentioned he might like to get into the cattle business. It turned out, the defendant had some money and offered to help fund the business in exchange for getting his criminal charges dismissed.
Apparently, this sounded like a good way to get his entrepreneurial start; much easier than entering the Shark Tank. Certainly easier than working a few extra jobs which included NBA security at Mavericks games. [As an aside, district attorney investigators in Texas are commissioned peace officers allowing them to work extra employment as private security to supplement their $80,000 plus annual incomes.]
Being that extraditions are generally a quick trip with no stops, it didn’t take long for Robinson and his new co-conspirator to strike up conversation and a quid pro quo agreement. What started out as prosecutorial business in late 2012 quickly turned public corruption. By February, Robinson drafted a proposed business agreement wherein his co-conspirator would provide the funding and he would perform the day-to-day activities of this new venture. By March, 2013, the co-conspirator had deposited $200,000 into a joint account. Robinson used about $51,000 of those funds for personal expenses. And on May 24, 2013, Robinson fulfilled his promise to persuade the assistant district attorney to dismiss the charges against his co-conspirator.
Interestingly, he landed in federal court because the district attorney’s office received federal funds in the form of grants or other federal assistance, and Robinson was an agent of that office when he conspired to accept the bribe and influence the prosecutor. Robinson entered a guilty plea, and his co-conspirator was unnamed. It appears Robinson alone will bear the consequences for this corruption. He faces up to five years in prison and sentencing has been set for later this year.
What happened to the prosecutor who dismissed the case? Was he (or she) in on the deal? Did Robinson offer to share his ill-gotten gain with the prosecutor? Presumably not, as he wasn’t charged in the federal public corruption case. So, what good reason did Robinson give him to secure the dismissal for his co-conspirator? Surely, Robinson must have offered up more than “pretty please” to get the case dumped. Did Robinson lie about evidence or twist facts to convince the prosecutor? Whatever his reason, it certainly was compelling enough as the prosecutor agreed to his request for dismissal.
What happened to the co-conspirator? He skated on the original charge because of the bribe, and it looks like he won’t face federal charges since he cooperated to expose the corrupt investigator.
So many questions come to mind. Yet, very little answers.
Robinson spent 20 years with the prosecutor’s office. During his tenure he had access to hundreds of thousands of cases. And, as prosecutors are fond of saying, perhaps this is just the first time he’s been caught. In any event, Robinson is yet another example of how misconduct infiltrates all levels of government. Prosecutors withhold evidence and threaten prosecutions to gain advantages. Police lie and fabricate evidence to make arrests and garner convictions. Prosecutors have been known to offer bribes themselves to skirt personal arrests. It’s rare, but not unheard of, for police or prosecutors to drop a case under a bribe. Here it’s a police officer inside the prosecutor’s office on the take, using his position and built-in credibility to influence prosecutors for his personal gain.
Of course he’s not the first district attorney employee to face charges stemming from their employment. He’s not even the first district attorney investigator to face corruption. Undoubtedly, he won’t be the last either.
Much as we may hate to think of it this way, they’re still people, suffering from the same foibles as the rest of us. That’s just by way of explanation, not excuse. After all, money isn’t the root of all evil. It’s the lack of money.