Investigation Timeline to August 8, 2013:
04-16-2013: Company “B” Headquarters assigned Company “B” Texas Ranger James B. Holland to conduct an inquiry into allegations that Denton County Sheriff William Barrett Travis offered a bribe to former Denton County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Kevin Andrew Bragg. Company “B” Headquarters provided a letter from Special Prosecutor Frank Able requesting the Texas Rangers to investigate said allegations of bribery.
04-23-2013: Ranger Holland met with Special Prosecutor Frank Able at the Denton County District Attorney’s Office. Special Prosecutor Able provided Ranger Holland the following documents:
A letter from attorney Robert J. Davis dated 02-07-2013, addressed to Assistant Denton County District Attorney Hardy Burke pertaining to a civil lawsuit filed by Kevin Bragg against Denton County and former Denton County Sheriff Benny Parkey.
The letter discussed the following: an attached electronic message that was sent by Bragg’s attorney, Chris Raesz, “purportedly” sent from Sheriff Travis to Bragg and various attachments that included sections of the Texas Penal Code involving Bribery, Bribery and Corrupt Influence, Tampering with a Witness, and a reported case involving a conviction for Bribery against former Denton County Sheriff Kaisner.
The October 25, 2012, e-mail sent to Bragg read:
“… if you did file a suit and you want to come back to work at Denton County Sheriff’s Office a couple of things need to be done? The law suit has to be dropped and I have to see a judgment reflecting this by November 5, 2012! Also required, will be a letter to me stating you will never sue me, my staff, the Denton County Sheriffs Office or Denton County in any way! This letter must be from your attorney and need to be signed and notarized! This letter also has to be to me by November the 5th, 2012. I hope you can understand all of my request!! I don’t play that way and don’t expect the people that work for me to operate in that manner! Talk to you soon, Will”
05-03-2013: Ranger Holland interviewed former Denton County Sheriff and current Cooke County Attorney Investigator Benny Wade Parkey who stated:
In 2009, former Denton County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Kevin Bragg initiated a lawsuit against Parkey, the Denton County Sheriff’s Department, and Denton County. Bragg’s lawsuit alleged that he (Bragg) was a whistle blower and was fired because he (Bragg) reported malfeasance in the Denton County Sheriff’s Department.
Three days after the November election, Travis met with Parkey in Parkey’s office at the Denton County Sheriffs Department. Ranger Holland reviewed a recording of a conversation held during that meeting in which the Bragg lawsuit was brought up. Travis advised that he did not know about Bragg’s suit until two (2) weeks prior. Travis stated that Bragg would drop the law suit against the Sheriff’s Department when Parkey left office. Travis advised that he went to church with Bragg and that Travis had “bent Bragg’s ears back” over the suit. Travis stated that Bragg was “gonna drop it when you leave,” and that “none of this is gonna happen.”
05-03-2013: Ranger HOLLAND interviewed a Denton County Sheriffs Department [ed. un-named] Deputy in Denton County, Texas. Said deputy stated the following:
Travis advised said deputy, in approximately late August of 2012, prior to the November general election, that he (Travis) would get Bragg to drop a lawsuit against former Sheriff Parkey, and the Denton County Sheriffs Department, to show Parkey that he (Travis) was getting things done.
Travis advised said deputy that it was important for him (Travis) to get the Bragg lawsuit dropped because it would “look good” on Travis. Travis both texted [ed. No date or content verification listed to date] and directly communicated with said deputy in reference to Bragg dropping his lawsuit, that he (Travis) was “just gonna get it done.”
Travis never went into specific details with said deputy about how he (Travis) would get Bragg to drop the suit, but stated (Travis) “one way or another he would get it (Bragg’s lawsuit) dropped.”
05-30-2013: Ranger Holland interviewed former Denton County Sheriffs Department Deputy and current Runaway Bay Police Officer Kevin Bragg at the office of Bragg’s attorney, Chris Raesz.
Bragg presented a copy of an electronic message sent from Sheriff Travis to Bragg dated 10-25-2012, at 8:58 p.m. The electronic message contained a string of three (3) electronic correspondences that were all initiated by Travis on 10-25-1012.
The first string was identical to prior correspondence provided to Ranger Holland by Special Prosecutor Able, in which Travis laid out a list of demands that were to be met if Bragg were to be employed by the Denton County Sheriffs Office. [ed. See above]
The second string was a response from Bragg at 1:10 p.m. [ed. No content provided]
The third string was a response from Sheriff Travis at 8:58 p.m. [ed. No content provided]
Bragg said he had informed his attorney (Raesz) about Travis’ electronic message and was told by Raesz not to communicate with Travis. Raesz stated that he believed Travis’ offer [ed. Raesz attributed word] was a violation of the law and advised his client not to communicate with Travis.
Bragg stated that Travis knew about Bragg’s lawsuit against Denton County and former Sheriff Parkey. Bragg believed that Travis’ electronic message conveyed: [ed. Bragg’s interpretation] “I will give you job if you drop the lawsuit.” Bragg felt that Travis was “bribing me … ” .
Bragg said he met with then Denton County Sheriff Candidate Jesse Flores and Denton County Constable Candidate Barry Minoff at the I-Hop Restaurant in Lewisville, prior to the November general election. During this meeting– and in the presence of Minoff— Bragg said Flores told Bragg that then candidate Travis told Flores that if he (Flores) dropped out of the Sheriffs Department race, Travis would appoint Flores to a “Chief’s spot” in the Sheriffs Office, once Travis was elected.
06-03-2013: Ranger Holland interviewed former Denton County Sheriff Candidate and current Denton County Precinct 1 Constable Jesus Lopez Flores at the Decatur Ranger office. Flores stated the following:
Flores was the first person to announce his candidacy for the Denton County Sheriff. Then candidate Travis called Flores and told him (Flores) that he (Travis) was running for Sheriff. Both Travis and Flores agreed to “keep things clean” in the race.
Travis never personally mentioned to Flores that if he (Flores) dropped out of the Sheriff’s race, Travis would give him (Flores) a job in the Sheriffs Office. Ranger Holland advised Flores that his answers were indicative of deception. Flores stated that he was being “honest” in his answers. Flores stated that he was telling the truth.
Flores had heard from “others,” after the primary, that Travis was considering bringing Flores into his (Travis’) administration.
Flores stated that he communicated with Travis by text and cellular phone on a limited basis during the election, but that there was no text communication, “nothing that I remember,” before the primary election. Flores stated that he did not think he saved any of said text messages.
Ranger Holland advised Flores that he (Ranger Holland) had begun receiving court-ordered communication referencing this investigation.
Flores then stated that he did communicate by text with Travis, prior to the primary election. Flores stated that toward the end of the race, “I supported him (Travis).” Flores stated that he began supporting Travis approximately one month prior to the primary election.
Flores then stated that approximately one month prior to the primary election, he (Flores) “filtered” texts to Travis about Parkey, and that most of the texts were in reference to the Bragg lawsuit against Parkey and the Mental Health Unit.
Ranger Holland asked Flores to review his cellular phone to determine if he (Flores) still had communication with Travis on his (Flores) cellular phone.
Flores stated that he did still have communication from Travis on his cellular phone. Flores then displayed to Ranger Holland several text messages sent to and received from Travis. [ed. no content or dates listed]
Ranger Holland asked Flores if he would allow Ranger Holland to “mirror” his (Flores’) cellular telephone. Flores stated that he would provide communication from Travis to Ranger Holland, but that he (Flores) would not allow Ranger Holland to “mirror” his phone.
Ranger Holland requested Flores to examine his communication from and to Travis to ensure that Travis did not offer him a position in the Sheriff’s Office and that Travis did not entice him (Flores) to drop out of the race. Flores stated he would review said communication, and that he would provide said communication to Ranger Holland, at a future date.
When questioned by Ranger Holland about Travis making any type of statement to Flores about dropping out of the race because Flores’ continued involvement would force a run-off election, and cost Travis more money, Flores stated that prior to the primary, Travis had “joked” with him (Flores) that Flores’ continued involvement “was going to cost him (Travis) more money in the run-off.”
At the conclusion of the interview, Ranger Holland advised Flores that he (Flores) was a witness and assured him that he (Flores) was not a subject of any type of criminal investigation.
Ranger Holland admonished Flores not to mention his interview with Ranger Holland to anyone and not to speak of any details of said interview to anyone. Flores promised Ranger Holland that he would not mention a word of the interview or Ranger Holland’s investigation to anyone.
06-05-2013: Ranger HOLLAND interviewed a retired law enforcement officer and current resident of Denton County. Said individual [ed. un-named] did not show to have a criminal history. Said individual stated the following:
A month or two following the primary election, said retired law enforcement officer had lunch with Flores and Deputy Constable MINOFF at, possibly, McDonalds. During said lunch, while Minoff was present, Flores told said individual that Travis had wanted him (Flores) to drop out of the race and that Travis said: “There would be a place” for him (Flores), if Flores would drop out of the election. Flores stated that Travis made this offer because Travis did not want the election to go to a run-off. Flores stated that in a conversation directly with Travis, “Travis tried to get me to drop out of the race.
Said individual stated that he was “positive” that Flores told him, in the presence of Minoff, that Travis stated to Flores that Flores would receive a position in the Sheriff’s Office, if Flores dropped out of the Sheriffs race. Said individual stated that Flores would probably not be honest about the offer, because Flores was trying to get Travis’ endorsement in his (Flores’) current campaign for Constable.
06-05-2013: Ranger Holland spoke to Constable Flores by telephone.
Flores stated that he (Flores) had reviewed the text messages on his (Flores) cellular phone to and from Travis and that Travis did not offer him a job or try to get him to drop out of the Sheriffs campaign. Flores advised that when he reviewed his text messages to and from Travis, he (Flores) realized that he had deleted all messages to and from Travis, prior to October of 2012.
Ranger Holland requested Flores submit to a polygraph examination with the relevant question being whether or not Travis offered him (Flores) a position in the Sheriffs Office, if he (Flores) dropped out of the Sheriff’s race. Ranger Holland advised Flores that he (Ranger Holland) could close that “chapter” of the investigation, if Flores would take and pass the polygraph examination.
Ranger Holland again advised Flores that he (Flores) was a witness and not a target of the investigation. Flores advised that he (Flores) was telling the truth and that he would have to think about taking a polygraph and speak with his attorney.
06-06-2013: Ranger Holland spoke to Constable Flores by telephone. Constable Flores advised that he would not speak to Ranger Holland under advice of counsel and further advised that he would not submit to a polygraph examination.
Constable Flores advised that he would not allow Ranger Holland to forensically examine his cellular telephone. Constable Flores stated that Ranger Holland was conducting a “witch hunt,” and that he (Flores) had done nothing but cooperate.
Ranger Holland asked Constable Flores why he told Constable Burch and Deputy Minoff about Ranger Holland’s investigation and why he told Deputy Minoff that Ranger Holland would be interviewing him.
Constable Flores advised that he had a duty to tell Constable Burch about the investigation because it involved one of his men. Ranger Holland reminded Constable Flores that he had given his (Flores) word not to discuss Ranger Holland’s investigation with anyone.
Ranger Holland advised Constable Flores that he would be forced to secure a search warrant for Constable Flores’ phone, if Constable Flores refused to provide the requested information.
Ranger Holland advised Constable Flores that a search warrant affidavit would be open to public record scrutiny, and that Ranger Holland was trying to conduct a discrete investigation.
Ranger Holland advised Constable Flores that he would be securing a search warrant for Constable Flores’ telephone and warned Constable Flores not to delete or destroy any information on Constable Flores’ cellular telephone.
Constable Flores asked: “Are you threatening me?”
Ranger Holland stated that he was not threatening Constable Flores, but merely advising Constable Flores that the information on his cellular phone was evidence in a criminal investigation and that there were criminal penalties for destroying or tampering with evidence. Ranger Holland again reminded Constable Flores that he was a witness and not a subject of said investigation.
Constable Flores refused to speak further, refused to submit to a polygraph examination, and refused to allow Ranger Holland access to his (Flores) cellular telephone.
06-06-2013: Ranger Holland traveled to Travis’ residence in Argyle, Denton County, Texas. Ranger HOLLAND approached Travis’ front door and eventually made contact with Travis. Travis welcomed Ranger Holland into his residence as he (Travis) spoke on his cellular telephone.
Ranger Holland requested to speak to Travis about matters that he (Ranger Holland) was investigating in regard to Travis, specifically an “e-mail” that was sent to Kevin Bragg.
Ranger Holland displayed said “e-mail” to Travis. Travis stated the following:
“You can’t hire a person in the county” if they have a lawsuit against the county.
Travis stated: “My only intent … I guess I should have finished it (e-mail to Bragg) out. You can’t get hired by the county unless … if you have a lawsuit you’re done … that was it that was my main deal, there is no promise of a job.”
Travis stated that Bragg had sent an electronic message to another individual in which Bragg told that person ‘Will does not promise jobs.”
Travis stated “I wrote all this (the electronic message to BRAGG) … you just can’t hire anybody through our county if you have a lawsuit.” Travis stated “He (Bragg) never applied for the job.”
Travis stated he never made a job offer to Flores and never propositioned Flores to drop out of the Sheriff’s race.
Travis stated his computer accounts were not hacked into. Travis stated all the rumors about the “FBI” seizing his computers were just a rumor.
06-07-2013: Ranger Holland met with Bragg. Bragg stated Deputy Constable Minoff told him that Travis, Minoff, and Flores had all met, prior to the primary election, at an I-Hop in Lewisville, Texas.
Bragg stated that Minoff told him that during said meeting, Travis offered both Flores and Minoff positions in the Denton County Sheriff’s Office.
Bragg stated that he (Bragg) later brought up said meeting to Flores. Bragg stated that Flores told him Travis said he (Travis) would make Flores a Captain at the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, if Flores dropped out of the race. Bragg stated that Flores told him that he (Flores) told Travis that he (Flores) had too much invested and too many people backing him to drop out of the race.
06-10-2013: Ranger Holland spoke to Constable Flores by telephone. Constable Flores stated the following:
Constable Flores felt it was important to advise Ranger Holland that there were rumors that the Sheriff’s position would be vacated. Constable Flores advised that the Precinct Chair had told him (Flores) that if Travis’ position was vacated, Constable Flores would be offered an appointment to Sheriff.
Constable Flores asked if he took the polygraph examination, would Ranger Holland agree not to forensically examine his (Flores) cellular phone. Ranger Holland advised Flores, no. Constable Flores advised he (Flores) would have to talk to his wife, because she would not be happy with him (Flores). (Constable FLORES made it evident that he did not want his cellular phone forensically examined).
Constable Flores stated, that at this point, he thought he (Flores) would submit to a polygraph examination, but that he was not sure and would have to think about it some more. Constable Flores stated that he did not remember everything.
Constable Flores stated “I’m gonna be shocked if I fail the polygraph examination.” Constable Flores stated he was worried that if/when he (Flores) failed the polygraph examination: “I don’t want you to think I’m lying.”
Several days later, Constable Flores left a message on Ranger Holland’s cellular phone that he (Flores) was waiting to hear back from his attorney, because he was trying to get his attorney to be present at the polygraph examination. To this date, Constable Flores has refused to submit to a polygraph examination, refused to allow Ranger Holland to forensically examine his (Flores) cellular telephone, and has failed to provide Ranger Holland electronic communication sent to and received from Sheriff Travis.
06-26-2013: Ranger Holland spoke to Bragg by telephone. Bragg stated that he remembered, at a rodeo-type function at Travis’ arena, being present and hearing Travis offer Flores the Sheriffs Department Public Information Officer Captain position. Bragg stated he remembered Flores stating that sounded good to him. Bragg believed said event was after the primary election, but prior to the general election.
07-01-2013: Ranger Holland interviewed Denton County Sheriffs Office Chief Deputy Rex Dean George, at the Decatur Ranger office. George stated the following:
Travis told George, probably before the primary election, that he (Travis) had run into Bragg while at church. George advised Travis: “Be careful with that guy, because he has a lawsuit against the county.” George believed that Travis may have known about Bragg’s lawsuit prior to George advising Travis. George stated that there was “no doubt” I told him (Travis) about Bragg’s lawsuit, at said time.
George had no further communication about the Bragg lawsuit with Travis, until several weeks after the primary election, around May or June of 2012.
In May or June of 2012, Travis stated to George that he (Travis) wanted to make Bragg’s lawsuit “go away.” George “adamantly” advised Travis to “runaway” from Bragg. George told Travis: “It is not our lawsuit, let it go.”
George was not sure why Travis was so concerned with the Bragg lawsuit, but believed that Travis wanted a “clean slate” with no law suits when he (Travis) entered office.
George stated that he told Travis that when he became Sheriff, he would be sued and it was just the way things were. George stated that when Travis said he would “like to see it (Bragg’s lawsuit) go away,” George adamantly advised him (Travis) to stay away from Bragg.
George stated he had no further communication with Travis about the Bragg lawsuit until he (George) observed the Raesz’ brief, sometime in February of 2013. George stated that Travis was a “dumbass” for staying in contact with Bragg, and that the electronic message Travis sent to Bragg was “stupid” and “nonsensical.”
George stated that he was “surprised” Travis sent said electronic message to Bragg.
07-02-2013: Ranger Holland interviewed a Lewisville Police Department Officer, at the Lewisville Police Department. Said officer [ed. un-named] stated the following:
Flores relayed to said Officer, in multiple conversations (prior to the primary election), that Flores would be going to work for Travis at the Denton County Sheriff’s Office. Flores told said Officer toward the end of the primary election, that he (Flores) had no money to campaign, and that Travis had told Flores to drop out of the race and “go work for” Travis at the Denton County Sheriff’s Office.
Flores relayed in multiple conversations (prior to the primary election) to said Officer that there was no doubt that he (Flores) would be going to work for Travis in January.
Prior to the primary election, Flores spoke, almost on a daily basis, about going to work for Travis at the Denton County Sheriffs Office.
Toward the end of the primary election, it was understood by Flores that he (Flores) did not have a chance at winning the race, (relayed in multiple conversation with said Officer) so he (Flores) turned his support toward Travis.
Prior to the primary election, Flores told said Officer that Travis promised Flores a job. Flores continually stated ”when Wil gets in there, he will give me a job, in January I’m gone.”
Said officer described Flores as someone that was not honest, and who would do anything to get where he (Flores) wants to go.
Said officer stated that Flores would be lying if he (Flores) stated Travis did not offer him a job.
07-02-2013: Ranger Holland interviewed a second Lewisville Police Department Officer at the Lewisville Police Department. Said officer [ed. un-named] stated the following:
Said officer worked with Flores at Lewisville Police Department. Approximately one (1) month prior to the primary election, Flores began throwing his support behind Travis. Weeks after the primary election, Flores told said officer the following: “Wil told me he wants me in his administration,” “I have a job at the Sheriffs Department, I’m going to be able to retire,” “I’m going to the County.”
Said officer stated that Flores told him that once the (general) election was held, he (Flores) would be hired by Travis, and that he (Flores) had been told that he would be hired, by ‘Will”
Said officer stated that Flores would be lying if he (Flores) stated Travis did not offer him a job.
08-06-2013: Ranger Holland spoke to the retired law enforcement officer [ed. un-named] he (Ranger Holland) had interviewed on 06-05-2013.
Said retired law enforcement officer stated that Flores had questioned him if Ranger Holland had interviewed him. Said retired officer stated he told Flores that the Ranger had interviewed him. Said retired law enforcement officer stated Flores questioned him as to what Ranger Holland enquired about.
Affiant knows through training and experience that cellular telephones can send and receive text messages and that text messages sent and received on the cellular telephone can be stored in the telephones memory. Affiant believes that text messages stored on suspected party’s cellular telephone may concern conversations related to the enumerated offense(s).
Affiant knows from personal knowledge that cellular telephones can access the World Wide Web (internet) and allow the user to operate the cellular telephone as a hand held computer. In this mode of operation, not placing and receiving calls, the user can access email accounts, social media sites, instant messaging and browse the internet to make searches on a variety of topics. Affiant also knows that users can also manipulate stored data either on the cellular telephone or to web servers to access at a later time.
Affiant is familiar with programs referred to as “Apps”. “Apps” are computer applications downloaded onto a cellular telephone which work in conjunction with a web server to allow images, and videos to be moved from the memory of a cellular telephone and stored to a designated website or “cloud” application. These “Apps” are accessible via the cellular telephone through a user name and password, which remain stored on the cellular telephone.
Affiant knows through training and experience that people utilize computers that access the World Wide Web (internet) to connect to others with like interest. This interest can be legal or illegal in nature, and through the computer an individual can remain somewhat anonymous in these activities. This allows individuals to become more empowered to conduct illegal business over such avenues. Affiant is aware that many illegal ventures have been started via a computer, utilizing direct contact (email), blogs (discussions sites) or social media. A computer used in this manner by an individual makes an act harder to discover by law enforcement due to the anonymity of the individual while on a computer. Often times evidence of these illegal acts are discovered after the act as taken place by retrieving computer files or programs that contain digital data detailing the crime. This data must be recovered by law enforcement through investigative analysis.
Wherefore, affiant asks for the issuance of a warrant that will authorize the search of said cellular telephone, (computer and said computer memory storage devices) as described above, to include any installed or accompanying hard disk drives, flash media, any other storage media, and any stored electronic communications as defined by Art. 18.20, Sec. 1 (15) and (20) pursuant to Art. 18.21, Sec. 1(1), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The search of said computers and cellular telephone may include the examination of installed software; that is, digital information that can be interpreted by a computer and any of its related components, which may be stored in electronic, magnetic, optical, or other digital form. The search includes the examination of stored materials, media, documents, and data, including but not limited to: address books; recently called numbers; recently received numbers; digital images; and text messages.
The search may also include the examination and/or utilization of any manuals and documentation which may be written, recorded, printed, and/or electronically stored material which explains or illustrates how to configure or use the computers, cellular telephone or other related items. The search may also include other areas of the computers and cellular telephone in which said suspected party may store data evidence which is the object of the search requested herein. Furthermore, said items can be analyzed by a trained evidence recovery specialist in order to retrieve, restore, and/or reproduce any or all information believed to be evidence of said offense(s).
Based upon affiant’s knowledge, training, and experience, affiant knows that computers and cellular telephones and other electronic evidence that may not be readily accessible without proper equipment can be searched by personnel trained to conduct computer and cellular telephone evidence examinations. For this reason, affiant also requests authorization to transport said computers and cellular telephone, accompanying media containing software and data, and computer and cellular telephone related documentation, or duplicate copies of the data contained in each of these items, out of this county for complete and thorough examination by trained personnel in a controlled environment.
SWORN TO AND SUBSCRIBED BEFORE ME BY SAID AFFIANT ON THIS
THE 8th DAY OF August, 2013