Austin attorney’s felony drug arrest captured on national TV

National

Williamson County Sheriff’s Office badge (KXAN Photo/Ben Friberg)

Editor’s Note: Following the original publication of this story on July 25, 2019, KXAN received information from the Williamson County District Attorney’s office that the drug charge in the case against the attorney has been dismissed. The Williamson County District Attorney’s Office asked for the dismissal, citing concerns in drug evidence being admitted after the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office would not release names of the Live PD crew or video from the search and seizure. KXAN has removed the attorneys name.

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — With a national television audience watching, Williamson County deputies rummaged through an Austin attorney’s BMW in July 2019. Deputies pulled the man over, claiming he failed to use a turn signal.

That traffic stop ended with a felony charge of manufacturing or delivery of a controlled substance against that attorney. The drug listed on court filings is methamphetamine.

Almost one year later, on June 9, 2020, the Williamson County District Attorney asked the judge to dismiss the charge. Williamson County District Court Judge Rick Kennon signed the dismissal order the same day.

“This case has very significant 4th Amendment concerns which would could very well lead to a
suppression of all the drug evidence. These concerns are made intractable because of the refusal of Big Fish Media and the WCSO to provide names and contact information of ALL witnesses present on scene as well as those entities refusal to provide the raw video-footage of the stop, search, and arrest recorded by the ‘Live PD’ crew at the scene,” Williamson County Assistant District Attorney Dee McWilliams wrote in the state’s motion to dismiss.

Deputies made the traffic stop during a taping of Live PD. The attorney was listed as the driver — and only person in the car, according to the criminal complaint.

Williamson County deputies allowed the television show to record and broadcast the search of the man’s car only inches away from deputies performing the search. Still images from the show depict deputies searching the trunk of the man’s BMW along Anderson Mill Road in Austin.

This is the drug inventory Williamson County deputies reported following a search of an Austin attorney's car on July 20, 2019.
This is the drug inventory Williamson County deputies reported following a search of an Austin attorney’s car on July 20, 2019.

Court records show the only charge against the man is related to the methamphetamine, despite the other drugs and paraphernalia deputies reported finding in his car.

“Based on my training and experience and based on the amounts, variety and packaging of the controlled substances, and that some substances were packaged in small quantities for individual resale, I determined that [the attorney] was intending to resell the controlled substances,” Deputy J. Pereira wrote in the criminal complaint.

The attorney told KXAN he had “no comment” in a call to his cell phone Thursday. The man left the Williamson County jail on a $50,000 bond Sunday, according to jail records.

Calls and emails to the attorney’s law firm asking about his employment status have not yet been returned.

The Texas Bar Association’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel is aware of the man’s charges. The CDC told KXAN the charges make the attorney eligible for “compulsory discipline,” according to the office’s Public Affairs Counsel, Claire Reynolds.

However, the CDC would have to wait for a conviction on a charge to begin the compulsory disciplinary process, according to Reynolds. As of this report, the Texas Bar shows the man’s law license is in good standing.

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