Newsbrief: Texas Drug Task Force Prosecutor Plays "Let's Make a Deal" With Wealthy Defendants 11/14/03

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A former Texas drug task force prosecutor has told the Dallas Morning News that he routinely offered probation to big-time offenders "in exchange for cash, cars, motorcycles, jewelry, and other property the task force needed to fund its operations." Former Denton County prosecutor Denver McCarty, who tried cases brought by the North Central Texas Narcotics Task Force, said he offered sweet deals to at least a half-dozen major defendants, including a large cocaine trafficker, a violent pimp, and a meth cook responsible for a half-million dollars worth of crank.

According to McCarty, he made the deals to ensure the continued operation of the task force. "If we don't have enough money by the end of the grant year, we're all out of a job," he said. "You kind of knew what kind of forfeiture money you needed to have, or everybody's going home."

The drug task forces, which have ravaged Texas for nearly two decades with scandals such as the infamous 1999 Tulia busts, are primarily funded by federal grants. But under the terms of the state-federal agreement, the task forces are required to supply part of their own budgets. According to the Morning News, Denton County task force forfeitures have averaged about $150,000 a year since 1997.

Denton County District Attorney Bruce Isaacks denied that such deals take place and told the Morning News he would have fired McCarty for making such deals. But he didn't.

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