Houston Police narcotics officers falsified documentation
about drug payments to confidential informants with the support of supervisors
as part of a scheme that unraveled when a husband, wife and their dog were shot
to death during a no-knock raid at a home on Harding Street in January 2019,
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.
The charges come as the Harris County District Attorney’s
Office Civil Rights Division reviews thousands of cases handled by Squad 15 of
HPD’s Narcotics Division.
Six retired officers, including Gerald Goines, Steven
Bryant, three supervisors and a senior police officer, were charged with
fifteen felonies Wednesday.
Five of the six are charged with falsifying government
documents used in narcotics investigations.
Allegations include using false information to get judges
to sign search warrants, falsifying time sheets, putting false information in
offense reports, and falsifying government documents to steal, prosecutors have
“Goines and others could never have preyed on our
community the way they did without the participation of their supervisors;
every check and balance in place to stop this type of behavior was
circumvented,” Ogg said. “This was graft and greed at every step in the
process, and prosecutors are making their way through the evidence one incident
at a time.”
In addition to Goines and Bryant, those charged include
former sergeants Clemente Reyna and Thomas Wood, former lieutenant Robert
Gonzales, and former senior officer, Hodgie Armstrong, according to court
Goines has previously been charged with felony murder and
tampering with government records and Bryant has previously been charged with
tampering with government records.
“The new charges show a pattern and practice of lying and
deceit,” Ogg said. “There are mountains more evidence to review, and more
charges are likely as we push into the next phase of our investigation.”
Supervisors signed records stating they witnessed
street-level officers pay money to confidential informants for buying drugs,
when the evidence reveals the supervisors were not actually there, and
therefore could not have witnessed what they claimed to have witnessed,
according to prosecutors.
“This investigation is peeling back layers of a
narcotics-enforcement system gone array,” Ogg said. “It calls into question the
way HPD has been enforcing narcotics laws, especially in communities of color.
The lion’s share of arrests made by this squad were minority men for low-level
The cases filed Wednesday will be presented to a Harris
County grand jury this month, so long as COVID-19 permits.
Prosecutors are also reviewing cases to determine if
defendants were wrongfully convicted after being arrested by Goines.
The review has already resulted in the district
attorney’s recommendation that two individuals are actually innocent as well as
the dismissal of other cases.
Prosecutors have notified hundreds of defendants that
there may be problems with their criminal convictions and have asked the courts
to appoint lawyers to review their legal options.
Those charged as of July 1, 2020 include:
Officer Gerald Goines – Three charges of tampering
with a government record (search warrants.) Third-Degree Felony, two to 10
years in prison. One charge of theft by a public servant between $2,500 and
$30,000, Third-Degree Felony.
Officer Steven Bryant –Two charges of tampering
with a government record (confidential informant forms which contain details of
money allegedly given to informants for services or buying drugs.) State Jail
Felony, six months to two years in jail. One charge of theft by a public
servant between $2,500 and $30,000, a Third-Degree Felony.
Sgt. Clemente Reyna – Three charges of tampering
with a government record (confidential informant forms.) State Jail Felony. One
charge of theft by a public servant between $2,500 and $30,000, Third-Degree
Sgt. Thomas Wood – One charge of tampering with a
government record (confidential informant form.) State Jail Felony. One charge
of theft by a public servant between $2,500 and $30,000, Third-Degree Felony.
Lt. Robert Gonzales – One charge of misapplication
of fiduciary property, State Jail Felony, for the reckless handling of HPD
money. Gonzales held a position of trust and was required to verify and
authorize any expenditures of up to $2,500.
Officer Hodgie Armstrong - one charge of tampering
with a government record (offense report,) State Jail Felony.