July 1, 2020
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 determined.
“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 records.
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 drug crimes.”
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 Felony.
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.