HEMPSTEAD, Texas -- A federal bribery and fraud investigation that has resulted in the resignation of four officials who pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks, has exposed a culture of corruption in rural Waller County, northwest of Houston.
In FBI surveillance recordings and court records, public officials speak about bribes using coded language and talk about ways to inflate bids to cover the cost of kickbacks, the Houston Chronicle reported in its Sunday edition.
In February, Larry W. Wilson Sr., the then-mayor pro-tem of Hempstead, and Paris Kincaid Jr., who was a Hempstead alderman, both pleaded guilty to soliciting kickbacks. They are scheduled to be sentenced this summer and face up to five years in prison.
Also that month, Keith Woods, the former Brookshire mayor and Henry Cheney, who was public works director from the opposite end of Waller County, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to solicit and accept kickbacks.
They were both arrested last year and are already serving time in federal prisons for the same crime.
Hempstead is 50 miles west of Houston.