Weekly Newspaper for Ward County

News|Sports|Opinion|Archives|Classified|Advertising|Main Menu


Thursday, October 31, 1996

DA questions legality of task force cash grabs

Return to Menu

District attorney John Stickels questions both the legality and morality
of some cash confiscations by agents of the Permian Basin Drug Task

It was the latest solvo in what has become a continuing verbal joust
between Stickels and the task force.

Task force agents have indicated Stickels will no press narcotics cases
the task force develops in his district. Stickels has suggested the
procedures of the task force sometimes fall short of the law and the

One problem, Stickels says, arises when agents do not arrest and seek
criminal charges against persons from whom they take the money.

State and federal law provides the legal seizure of assets (cash and
goods) if those assets can be proven to be the products of criminal

In reference to recent cash seizures by a task force agent, Stickels
comments: "I can't believe they would let a suspected drug dealer go and
have the audacity to call me soft on drugs. But they did and I am not."

The district attorney did say he demanded good investigations and proper
evidence before he would proceed with a case.

Stickels, whose headquarters is in Monahans, directs state prosecutions
in the 143rd Judicial District which covers Ward, Reeves and Loving

The latest cases to which he referred occurred on Oct 12, Oct. 19 and
Oct. 22. All of them involved Task Force AGent Ernest Vanderleest of
Saragosa. All of them were in Jeff Davis County, not a part of the 143rd
district. More than $100,000 in cash was confiscated and two vehicles
were impounded. All of those stopped signed so-called waivers of
interest, in effect agreeing to the seizure of the cash or the vehicles.
No arrest on drug charges were made. One man was held on Department of
Public Safety warrants, Vanderleest reported. In two of the cases, the
money was seized because it was in a "secret" compartment.

"What would you do?" asked Stickels rhetorically, "if you were pulled
over by a law enforcement officer and ordered to sign a waiver allowing
them to take your money? Many people would sign the waiver."

Stickels also said he was not comfortable with the assertion that secret
or hidden compartments are prima facie evidence that objects inside are
criminal, especially when it comes to cash.

Vanderleest was quoted in a story published in the Pecos Enterprise as
saying he could go to work Reeves County.

The enterprise report quoted Jack Brewer, deputy commander of the task
force as saying, "the present DA (Stickels) doesn't want us there" and
said Stickels would not prosecute task force drug cases falling in
Reeves, Loving and Ward counties.

"Having people just sign over money and then letting them go, "Stickles
said of task force agents. "I just don't think that's right."

Stickles is not seeking a second term as district attorney.

He is moving to Austin where his wife has entered a special Ph.D.
program in developmental psychology.

Democrat Randy Reynolds of Pecos is running unopposed for district
attorney in the Nov. 5 general election.

County clerk predicts 65% vote Tuesday

Return to Menu

Ward County Clerk Pat V. Finley predicts 65 percent of the county's
6,673 registered voters will cast ballots in the general election on
Tuesday, Nov. 5.

"I expect 65 percent," Finley said. "I hope for 75."

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Extended weather forecasts call for a balmy day in November.

By 5 p.m. on Tuesday, 1996 Ward County voters had cast early voting
ballots, reported Natrell Cain, deputy county clerk.

This was the highest, according to reports, in surrounding area but not
as high as the voting was in the general presidential election four
years ago when 1,682 early voters were cast. In the primary elections
this year, 1,260 early votes were cast in the Democratic primary; 61, in
the Republican.

"Early voting for this election could equal the total four years ago but
it's going to have to go some, Finley said.

Early voting ends at 5 p.m. on Friday.

In a county where Democratic vote usually settles local races (although
the electorate is basically conservative and will cast Republican
ballots for state and national level offices), there is only one local
race that has excited some local interest - Jesse Garcia, who is running
as an Independent, in an attempt to unseat Incumbent Ward County
Precinct 1 Commissioner Julian Florez, the Democratic nominee.

Garcia has been conducting a low key campaign, with only a few signs and
limited broadcast and newspaper advertising.

Cahill appointed to town's council

Return to Menu

Marge Cahill, who has shown an active interest in city government, was
sworn in as the newest member of the Grandfalls Town Council on
Wednesday, Oct. 23.

She succeeds Roger Mullins, who resigned from the council in order to
accept a position with the city of Grandfalls. Mullins had served on the
Council since May of 1995.

Cahill has two sons in the Grandfalls school.

She will serve Mullins' term and will stand for election to the council
in May of 1997.

Council member Alex Navarettee moved that Cahill be appointed to the
vacancy created by the resignation of Mullins. Council member Rudy
Ramirez seconded the nomination. The motion was approved and Cahill was
sworn in as the new member of the Grandfalls Council.

Meeting November 20

Return to Menu

November 20 has been set for the November meeting of the Grandfalls City
Council, the council voted on Wednesday, October 23. The reason; the
Thanksgiving Holidays. The council's November meeting had been scheduled
for the 27th.

Municipal court possible in future

Return to Menu

Grandfalls City Council has taken the first step toward the possible
establishment of a Municipal Court in the Ward County city.

That action came at the City Council meeting in the Grandfalls Municipal
building on Wednesday, October 23.

Council has appointed a committee to study the economic feasibility of a
Municipal Court for Grandfalls and also examine what actually would be
required by the state to initiate such a court.

City Administrator Marylyn THurman said the potential of a Municipal
Court is positive. Such a court would return dollars to the city for
violations, dollars now being collected by the Justice of the Peace
courts in Monahans, dollars which are not returned to the city of

Thurman also said many of Grandfalls' city ordinances could not be
properly "enforced without a municipal court."

Several questions need to be answered by the committee investigating the
matter before the Council can take action on the issue. One of those
questions involves the cost of such a proposed court including a judge
and clerk.

For example, Thurman could serve as the court clerk but she could not
serve as municipal judge because she already is a city employee.

Such a court would mean additional revenue for the Grandfalls but how
much still is to be estimated. There is no projection as to when the
Municipal Court feasibility study will be finished.

Ward County takes 2 volleyball crowns

Return to Menu

Two Ward County schools wrapped up district volleyball championships
Tuesday night.

The Lady Loboes beat the Alpine bucks 15-3, 15-13; the Monahans JV flew
past Alpine 15-6, 15-11; and Grandfalls finished off Buena Vista 15-4,

The Lady Loboes are currently ranked number one in the Permian Basin and
will begin playoff action next week against Colorado City.

The Ladies are on track to win 30 games this year and finished district

In a final warm-up before the playoffs begin, the Lady Loboes will face
Abilene Cooper in Big Springs Nov. 4 at 6:30.

Abilene Cooper is ranked number one in class 4-5A and number ten in the

Grandfalls is ranked number 10 in the Permian Basin and will face Bronte
on Nov. 9.

The Lady Cowgirls are currently 14-11 and unbeaten in district play.
Return to Menu

Copyright 1996 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314

Return to Menu

Return to Home Page