FBI investigation of ETX police department halts criminal prosecution in county

Published: Jun. 7, 2012 at 9:04 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2012 at 2:20 AM CDT
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Wood County Defense Attorney Mark Breding
Wood County Defense Attorney Mark Breding

WINNSBORO, TX (KLTV) - The Wood County District Attorney says for now he will not prosecute any cases investigated by the Winnsboro Police Department.

That's because the FBI is investigating two Winnsboro Police Officers for allegedly planting evidence to arrest people on drug charges. 
Nearly three years ago, a federal civil suit was filed against the police department related to those same accusations. This time, it's a criminal case. 
About two weeks ago, Winnsboro City Manager Nina Browning says the FBI sent her a request.

"They requested phone records and other confidential information," said Browning.  

The federal investigation stems from accusations of wrongdoing by two Winnsboro Police Officers. Wood County Defense Attorney Mark Breding is not directly connected to the case, but says he knows of the allegations.

"There has been some speculation that involved placement of drugs in a suspect's vehicle," said Browning.  

The officers under the federal microscope are still on the force; however, Wood County District Attorney Jim Wheeler says he won't prosecute any case investigated by the department until the federal case is over. 
Defense attorneys in the county, like Breding, were notified by Wheeler. 

"It could have a tremendous affect," said Breding.  "As we talked about before, this involves drugs that were placed on suspects by the police. So it could have a huge impact on drug cases coming out of Winnsboro. It could also have an impact on other cases that involve that particular officers credibility, or judgement, or accusations."

The implications of the allegations, Breding says, weigh heavily on what federal authorities uncover. 
We're told the Winnsboro Police Chief had planned on retiring about three weeks before federal authorities told the city the police department was under investigation. 
Now, Police Chief J.L. Miller says he'll stay until the investigation is over. 
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