Brock: ‘Guilty’
by By Kenda Nelson Editor, County Press
May 30, 2012 | 4264 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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VICTORIA — On day one of testimony by the first witness, former Refugio Police Chief Chris Brock, 51, pleaded guilty to misusing confiscated drug forfeiture money.

In exchange for his guilty plea, Brock will receive a three-year sentence in prison and court costs but he will not have to pay restitution. The plea bargain was offered by District Attorney Michael Sheppard.

Visiting Judge Bert Richardson of San Antonio agreed to the plea and will assess the official sentence in approximately three weeks.

Punishment for Brock’s crime could have ranged between two and 10 years in prison with a fine between $20,000 and $100,000.

The defense presented a litany of things that were purchased with drug forfeiture money that dwindled from more than $2 million in 2002 to just under $60,000 by 2008.

The police chief claimed to have spent money on criminal informants, yet no cases came before the district attorney, Sheppard said. The state argued that Brock spent money on himself and his family for everything from a big-screen television from Sam’s Club to a $1,000 scholarship for his son.

Also listed were his children’s cell phone bills, gasoline for a trip to Las Vegas and for biweekly commutes to Rockport, where he is pastor of Salt Lake Baptist Church.

The state said he spent $200 on Lions Club raffle tickets and won $5,000 in gift cards which he kept for himself. He also reimbursed himself for thousands of dollars spent out of his pocket for Gospel-Fest and Rib-Fest.

Other expenditures included reimbursement for a lemur that was to be used for drug interdiction.

“The monkey did not make a good interdiction officer,” according to Sheppard.

The evidence also included checks written to cash for $160,000, supposedly for nonprofit organizations.

Sheppard told the court that Brock failed to provide receipts or job-related transactions he claimed to have made.

Brock’s attorney, John Gilmore of Corpus Christi, accused the government of conducting “a witch hunt” against Brock.

Sheppard said Brock’s secretaries, Marina Balusek and Lillian Linney, brought the irregularities to light. Balusek and Linney contacted the Texas Rangers after they noticed the irregularities. Brock’s attorney said Balusek was a “disgruntled employee with an ax to grind.”

Only one witness, Kent Richardson, an assistant attorney general with the state, took the stand before Brock accepted the plea bargain.

Before the trial began, Brock told his parishioners at Salt Lake Baptist Church, where he serves as pastor, not to come to his trial.

“We honored his wishes,” said a member of his church. “We came to Refugio to buy a newspaper so we could read about the trial.”

The couple was adamant that their name not be mentioned in order that no hard feelings would arise between the couple and pastor.

“I’d rather that Chris not know that we were wanting to read about the trial... we love him.”

She did not know the basis of his request but suspected it might be from embarrassment. Her husband offered a word of wisdom.

“We’re all sinners,” he said. “Like the Bible says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Brock, he said, was no exception.
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