“11 Giles Agreed to $74,000 in Bribes–6 Years His Four Terms, Aggregating 27 Years, Are to Run Concurrently; Could Be Released in Less Than 2 Years AUSTIN Fortner Land Commissioner Bascom Giles has now admitted he agreed to receive $74,000 in .bribes. He has not been charged with actually accepting the bribes. He has been assessed money recovery judgments of $76,242, of whiCh about $30,000 has been paid by -another person who was involved. For the bribe offenses, plus conviction of being an accomplice to stealing $6,800 from the state, he has received four sentences of three, six, six, and six years. Each of these sentences will run at the same time; they amount to one six-year sentence. This is apparently because the prosecution for the state has not protested concurrent terms as part of a deal to get Giles to plead guilty. Legal sources agree Giles could be released after 14 to 18 months of his six-year term. This apparent deal may also involve agreement from Giles to pay civil judgments. Last week at Crystal City, Giles was charged with agreeing to accept three bribes of $36,000, $8,000, and $15,000, a ‘total of $59,000. The evidence seemed to show that land promoter J. Paul Little paid $59,000 of the price of a ranch Giles bought in Minnesota. Giles plead guilty to agreeing to take bribes of $36,000 and $8,000; the prosecution consented to a delay in the third charge ; and then it was an. nounced by District Attorney Francis Richter and Jim W. McCormick, special assistant attorney general, that the third bribe charge of $15,000 would not be tried unless Giles failed to pay a $33,000 civil judgment that had been levied against him in the morning, before the criminal trial. This $33,000 civil judgment may also be a prosecution-Giles compromise. The judgment was based on the theory _that $33,000, instead of the -bribe-offer sum, $59,000; was the true difference between the value of the land and the price the state paid for it at Giles’s behest. Later in the week, Giles “did not see fit to defend” against a state civil recovery suit of $41,010, plus three percent interest running it up td $43,242. One part of this$28,050 plus. interestwas paid at once by J. W. Youngblood of Waco, described as an innocent purchaser of Falls County lands from Giles. The balance$12, 960 plus interestwas paid by Giles at once. Giles also paid $10,000 on the’$33, 000 judgment in Crystal City at once. It does not seem to be in doubt that he can pay the balance and that he will not be tried on the third count of agreeing to accept the $15,000 bribe. In Zavala County, District Judge Ross Doughty of Uvalde gave Giles two sentences for agreeing-to take the two bribes. They were both for six years, coincidentally the length of the longest of his two earlier sentences. Doughty decided to let them run concurrently, with no protest from the prosecution for the county and the state. The net meaning, of the, Zavala proceedings was that Giles was not levied any actual additional time in jail for .agreeing to take bribes of $44,000, and that he probably will not be tried on an additional charge of taking another bribe of $15,000. THE STATE intends to press two further civil indictments against Giles. L, V. Ruffin and B. R. Sheffield of Brady are :co-defendants. The state seeks recovery of $171,414 in these cases. Giles also has nine other criminal charges pending against him in Austin. He has already been convicted here of helping steal $6,800 in a land deal, the cause of the first, three-year sentence. In San Antonio he admitted’ agreeing to take a $30,000 pay-off and was given the first of the three six-year penalties. The $43,242 judgment last week was based on the same San. Antonioland deal, in which Giles agreed to take the $30,000 bribe, and, in addition, on a Maverick County deal in which the state alleged that he demanded and received from promoters C. V. Wynn and Arthur McKenzie $12,960 of their profits. It is, of course, possible that Giles’s plea of guilty at San Antonio to agreeing to accept the $30,000 bribe may have been entered after the state agreed not to enter further prosecution for the $12,960 “profit-sharing” they now allege against him in the Maverick County civil suit. 1 T WAS NOT CLEAR whether state’s attorneys had yrevailed upon Giles last week to admit in his plea of .no defense in the $43, 242 civil recovery suit that he was “alone responsible at all times for the administration” of the veterans’ land program. He was Land Commissioner and chairnian of the Veterans’ Land Board. Atty. Gen. John Ben Shepperd and Gov. Allan Shivers were members with him. Sen. Jimmy Phillips has charged that all three were equally responsible. Shepperd and Shivers. said they delegated all authority to Giles. Gilesin his , first public appearance at a committee hearing on the scandalssaid the other two shared ,the responsibility. But in filing its civil recovery suit of $43,242 last week, the state alleged Giles was alone responsible at all times for the program’s administration. Judge Harris Gardner in Austin stated in his judgment that the defendant. “states that the allegations and correct.” Shepperd issued a statement asking reporters to take particular note of the allegation that .Giles was “alone responsible . . for the administration.” Then, at Week’s end, in a report to the Veterans’ Land BoardShivers, Shepperd, ‘Land Commissioner Earl Rudder of BradyMcCormick, Shepperd’s special prosecutor, . said that “there have been four judicial findings that Bascom Giles alone was responsible for acts done under his administration.” McCormick said that Giles stipulated in three of the Crystal City cases that he alone was responsible and that in Austin he made no defense to the “alone responsible” allegation. Shivers commented : “I think that’s very significant.” McCormick sai&that the state has obtained judgments of $381,032 for recovery of money under the land pro AUSTIN Gov. Shivers ignored his own supporters and appointed. a veterans’ land crusader as district attorney of five : South Texas counties here last week. More vigorous prosecution of about 100 land scandal indictments is expected to follow in the area. Shivers told one of his supporters in Austin petitioning’ him to appoint a Victoria lawyerthat. the appoint. rnent was not local but national, and that because of his membership on the Veterans’ Land Board, he wanted to be sure nobody could say he was preventing Cheatham or anyone else from developing evidence. State Democratic Executive Committeeman Gene Houchins of Victoria resigned, saying he could no longer support the policies and principles of Shivers. Sen. Bill Fly of Victoria had recommended Weldon Mallette, Victoria attorney. .At week’s end, the new D.A., Ma: rine veteran Wiley Cheatham, whose inquiries in Cuero first lifted the flap on the daddy of all Texas scandals, accepted a temporary post as special assistant attorney general on the land indictments. He refused this post when Atty. Gen. John Ben Shepperd. offered it to him during the last legislative session. He said last week Shepperd’s office has been “vital” in coordinating investigations and assisting in prosecutions. Fly and former D. A. Wayne Hartman, who resigned and moved from Cuero to Victoria, met recently in Victoria and decided to push attorney Mallette. Jack Howerton, editor, the Cuero Record, said ‘he believed an issue in Cheatham’s candidacy was vigorous prosecution of about 100 DeWitt The Texas Observer Page 4 . Dec. 14,. 1955 gram. He said that actual collections total $348,593, and that the remainder will be collected before Jan. 1including the balance of $23,000 on the Zavala judgment against Giles. State Sen. Phillips charged last week that land swindles of $9 million are still unexposed. ‘He took his figures from State Auditor C. H. Cavness, who said months ago that deals that seemed to be dubious totaled more than $10 million in value. Shepperd disputed this figure at the time. ‘ENTERED into , the record at Crystal City last week was the cornplicated record of the Little-Giles payoff set-up for Giles’s Minnesota land. In the civil suit testimony at Crystal Cityused by common consent in the criminal suit as wellthe state sought to prove that Giles visited Crystal City Nov. 24, 1953, and with Little and others looked at the land bought by the state for resale to veterans in Zavala and Dimmit Counties. The state paid $230 an acre for the land. State’s testimony sought to show that $59,000 of the money, paid:for the land went to Little to his Zavala County abstract company to an attorney trustee in Crookston, Minn., to another trustee acting for Little. ‘ One of these trustees, Carl 0. Whistler of Crookston, said in a deposition that Giles had bought a tract of Minnesota land for $82,500. Payments of $36,000 and $23,000 on the Minnesota land were traced to show they coincided with drafts issued by the Zavala County Bank, charged to Little’s account. The alleged bribe of *$59,000 was _paid in three drafts of $12,000 and in others for $8,000 and $15,000. . Defense testimony was designed only to show the value of the land involved. Doughty set trial of Little on indictments alleging he paid the $59,000 in bribeee’for March .12. R.D. County indictments against principals in the veterans’ land scandal. “As soon as Hartman resigned, we got busy on Wiley here,” Howerton said. “We thought he ought to have it.” Shivers replied to his South Texas critics : “There have been more attempts to bring pressure to bear on the Governor’s office to prevent the appointment of Wiley Cheatham than I have ever seen since I have been Governor.” He called a special mid-week pre -ss conference to tell reporters he was proud to appoint Cheatham to a job where he could push his investigations. He said that when Cheatham and others first discovered the abuses, “I, as governor, assured all concerned that the entire investigation and legal forces of the State of . Texas were at their command,” and that Shepperd, Auditor Cayness, and Colonel Garrison of the Department of Public Safety had co-operated fully. Shivers said “determination to reveal and punish every single instance of wrong doing” is no monopoly of any individual or group of individuals. The Victoria Advocate slammed Shiirers on this point. It said Shivers’s leaders on the committee resisted the inquiry, and continued : “It was apparent that most of them were doing everything they could to throw whitewash on the hearings. Only Sen. Jimmy Phillips kept the ball rolling and when the session was doubt but that Lt. Gov. Ramsey a new investigating committee with Sen. Phillips missing. There is no doubt but that LtL. Gov . Ramsey would have been glad to reappoint Sen. Phillips ‘to the committee so he could continue to investigate the land scandals if Gov. Shivers had wanted it that way. It is hard to understand why Gov. Shivers has suddenly become so Openly interested in cleaning up the veterans’ land scandals.” WILCO S Sick Leave Plan Protects You on AND off the Job! available to small groups of employees from 5 to 50 to large groups, up to thousands …. and to individuals! Western Indemnity Life Insurance Company -affiliated with OIL INDUSTRIES LIFE Home Office: 5011 Fannin, Houston, Texas AGENCIES THROUGHOUT TEXAS Shivers Appoints Cheatham
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.