Perhaps one of the big questions that have been on many of Liberty County taxpayers’ minds for years is whether Phil Fitzgerald is above the law? With the FEMA scandal nearing its crescendo someday soon, we will all have more information to form our opinion.
To avoid the cold water some throw on cases that have not been completed, Liberty Dispatch wants to respond to the standard idea from those who are defending people accused of a crime. That idea sounds very American. Here it is: “A person is innocent until proven guilty.” But aren’t there extenuating circumstances when it appears those officials who were suppose to pursue prosecution appear to have been amazingly reluctant to “prove anyone guilty”?
Here are a few problems our local officials presented to us when it comes to the FEMA/Fitzgerald, et al and other related problems from the Liberty County D.A.’s office:
*D.A.’s office and the County Attorney’s office have refused to prosecute Fitzgerald and all connected- period!
The basis of their refusal was not that Fitzgerald was innocent or there was a lack of evidence. The basis of the refusal to prosecute was as near a confession to their participation in a good ole boy system as we are likely to ever see. The D.A.’s office and the County Attorney are paid to prosecute and they are paid to seek justice. Every taxpayer in this county is likely to have a strong opinion on the FEMA contracts and the misuse of FEMA assets that happened after hurricane Ike.
*D.A. Mike Little when confronted by law enforcement with evidence against Fitzgerald tried to suppress it.
One scenario has Constable Royce Wheeler and LCSO Detective Chip Fairchild in the D.A.s office with evidence that is not only rejected, but the two men are rebuffed for bringing it. Another scenario has five men, Wheeler and Fairchild accompanied by Sheriff Henry Patterson and two right hand men, LCSO Captain Jim Cooper and Ken DeFoor at the county gun range- in a Fitzgerald discussion. Again, Patterson and the D.A. will have nothing to do with evidence against Fitzgerald- clearly a strong case of selective prosecution.
*The D.A. appears to be a witness FOR Fitzgerald’s defense!
When considering the idea that one is innocent until proven guilty when applied to people expressing their opinion on this case there are two areas worth discussing. The first one is the opinion by many in this community that regardless of what the courts decide or whether what was done was legal or not, many people believe what was done was just plain wrong.
The second area is the opinions of some that there is at the very minimum a verifiable case of selective prosecution that exist. The selective prosecution can be traced not only to the D.A. Mike Little, but to current Liberty County Sheriff Henry Patterson and some of his men. The lawmen who brought the evidence are not perfect men, but they are good men who are listened to when evidence is brought forth in a case.
Why did the D.A. try to shut down any investigation of these alleged Fitzgerald criminal acts? And then… when an investigation was inevitable, Mike Little becomes THE “star” witness for the Fitzgerald defense. Why have we never heard from Sheriff Henry Patterson? Or have we? Fairchild was fired. Wheeler and his daughter both had county “budget cuts” suddenly whack their little corner of the world. DeFoor resigned soon thereafter- all obvious “retaliation” by candidate Sheriff Henry Patterson.
Why would Patterson suddenly be a defender of the status quo – wasn’t he suppose to be the man coming into office to clean up the county?
Is the timing of Patterson’s silence on this case suspicious when one considers the D.A.’s involvement in investigating Patterson and his close friend Harry Kelly? Could there be a quid pro quo? Kelly is serving a short sentence in Leavenworth prison but there were more serious charges and potential prison time that some believed should have been laid on Henry Patterson as it related to hundreds of stolen guns from the Cleveland P.D. evidence room he was responsible for. Obviously, Henry Patterson got a deal pass…
There is a great deal of money and power that swirls around the justice system. The D.A. is retiring under many clouds of suspicion and charges of selective prosecution. Mike Little is suspiciously working overtime to install his handpicked “questionable” replacement. Mike Little is pushing the voters to elect the youngest, most inexperienced Assistant District Attorney in the history of his office, candidate Logan Pickett. In this already dysfunctional D.A.’s office the current D.A. is pushing Pickett to make sure anything he has done that is illegal is never questioned or surfaced after he is gone. As for Logan Pickett, his win-loss record in the D.A.’s office certainly does not instill confidence in the idea that the D.A. has found the ultimate protégé’. Also, there are serious allegations of spousal abuse by Logan Pickett along with terroristic threats, intimidation and strong-arming against his wife’s ex-husband.
Is Phil Fitzgerald above the law? We will soon see. Our opinions may vary, but as John Adams famously said, “Facts are stubborn things.” Many of the facts of this case are well known by the community and more importantly by the Liberty County D.A. along with his sidekick candidate Logan Pickett. The court of public opinion might think the net is yet to be cast broad enough to catch all of the wrongdoing in this case.
The Cleveland Advocate has also written a related story