TX Drug Officer caught planting evidence, falsifying police reports
against 15 innocent people he had arrested and convicted.
                                 San Antonio Express-News
                                          Metro Section

                             Poteet drug agent is indicted

                                       By Kate Hunger
                           San Antonio Express-News

FLORESVILLE — A narcotics task force officer is in jail after a Wilson
County grand jury last week indicted him on charges of filing false
reports, fabricating evidence and abusing his position as a peace officer.

The grand jury Thursday indicted Albert J. Villarreal of Poteet on 28 charges.

The indictments allege in part that while serving as an officer for the
81st Judicial District Narcotics Task Force, he trumped up drug charges on
15 people by falsifying police reports.

Seventeen counts accuse Villarreal, 32, whose duties included working
undercover, of tampering with a governmental record, usually by falsely
reporting a drug sale from a would-be suspect to himself. He also is
charged with five counts of fabricating evidence — specifically, planting
baggies of cocaine.

One count alleges that Villarreal told a potential witness in a drug case
that he or his family could get hurt if he didn't testify.

He also faces four official oppression charges asserting that he subjected
people to unlawful arrests, as well as a charge of abuse of official capacity.

The six-month investigation into Villarreal's drug cases began when someone
told an attorney that the case against his client was bogus, Texas Ranger
Gerardo De Los Santos said.

A Wilson County narcotics roundup in May 2000 snared 28 suspects, 15 of
whom are named in the indictment against Villarreal. But the investigation,
which targeted only Villarreal, goes as far back as late 1999.

"Some claimed they never met the guy," De Los Santos said.

Several felony drug cases have been dismissed because of the allegations
against Villarreal and more could be dropped if prosecutors believe the
officer played a key role in them, District Attorney Lynn Ellison said.

"We simply can't sponsor a guy that has these types of criminal
allegations," Ellison said, adding, "We continue to review matters as they
come up on the docket."

Villarreal is being held at Wilson County Jail on $245,000 in bonds.

His arraignment is set for Oct. 4. He had no attorney of record as of

Five of the charges against him are misdemeanors, and 23 are third-degree
felonies that carry up to 10 years in pri- son.

The commander of the 81st Judicial District Narcotics Task Force, which
covers Wilson, Atascosa, Frio and Karnes counties, was unavailable for
comment on Wednes- day.

Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr., said Villarreal turned himself in
on Monday after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Tackitt said Villarreal was terminated Wednesday.

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