Texas parole commissioner Pamela Freeman has been indicted for tampering with government records.
An investigation which led to an indictment revealed that Freeman made notes in official government files that at least five inmates refused to be interviewed when being considered for parole.
Freeman was indicted on Wednesday and is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Last June, San Antonio parole lawyer Kevin Stouwie complained to Brue Toney and state Senator John Whitmire, that on April 30, at least five inmates at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville were called into an area to be interviewed by Freeman. The inmates and other prison workers saw Freeman at the prison that day, but said she did not interview any of the five men. Instead, Freeman recorded in the file that all five men had refused to be interviewed. All five were subsequently denied parole.
Whitmire, chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and Toney, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Inspector General, initiated the investigation.
"It always concerns you that you have people entrusted with such huge responsibilities allegedly violating the trust and responsibilities to do the right thing," Whitmire said. "We have zero tolerance if we know about it."
According to Huntsville parole lawyer Bill Habern, this investigation is not the first time attorneys have complained about Freeman's actions. "She's had a long and troubled history with lawyers who do parole work."
Texas Pardons and Parole Board Chair Rissie Owens said the incident does not reflect the actions of the rest of the board's employees. "While this incident is unfortunate and certainly impermissible if true, it is by no means representative of our agency, which is comprised of dedicated, honorable and hard-working staff who take pride in the work they do to represent the board."
It is unclear whether the Parole Board is going to reconsider the cases of the five men.