More Tulia Sting Defendants Could Get Money from Texas

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At least one defendant in the discredited 1999 Tulia drug busts has received money from the state for wrongful imprisonment.

A West Texas attorney representing 18 others expects more to receive money.

Kareem White received the first of two 25-thousand-dollar payments last week for the nearly four years he was behind bars.

He is one of forty-six people, 39 of them black, who were arrested on drug charges in Tulia in July 1999. Civil rights groups questioned if the busts were racially motivated.

The sting involved one undercover agent, Tom Coleman, who is white and worked alone without audio or video surveillance. The case focused an international spotlight on the small farming and ranching town of about five-thousand between Amarillo and Lubbock.

A judge recommended a higher court throw out the convictions in April 2003 and Governor Rick Perry pardoned 35 of the defendants in August 2003.