'Adventure in Stupidity'

A threatening phone call to the Chronicle

The following is the transcript of an anonymous voice-mail message received by The Austin Chronicle on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Though the caller directs his complaint at Publisher Nick Barbaro, Editor Louis Black, and Associate News Editor Lauri Apple, this reporter actually wrote the two-line item in "Naked City" (which Apple edits) that he disputes.

The item explained that retired police officer Billy Sifuentes, who is running for City Council against Beverly Griffith, works in the South Austin body shop owned by former APD Lt. Dell Shaw, a former president of the Austin Police Association who in 1993 was convicted of bank fraud. "There's no untruths in any of that," says Sifuentes. Shaw served two and a half years for lying on a loan application to buy a home that was actually occupied by his friend, the financier Charles Kallestad. The caller says Shaw was "victimized" by the high-flying Kallestad, who had befriended many cops before being busted for both financial hanky-panky and inappropriate acts with underage girls.

In 1991, another Shaw colleague of the early Nineties era, former APD vice squad leader Byron "Bubba" Cates, had been convicted of extortion for shaking down Sixth Street prostitutes and massage-parlor madams. We presume it's Cates who the caller says, "used to run this town" and "got framed by a bunch of punks."

Says Sifuentes: "Whoever has taken this adventure in stupidity must have very thin skin and must be misinformed. There's no way to attack the truth. Even as a kid, and my whole adult life, I've stood for the truth. The truth will never get you in trouble."

The transcript:

Yeah, this message is for Nick Barbaro, Louis Black, or, or some girl named Apple, I can't remember her first name.

I just had a meeting with some other police officers, where you were badmouthing, Ms. Apple was badmouthing Billy Sifuentes. She had his name wrong to start with. She put his name in there as "Bobby" Sifuentes in this Feb. 22 issue.

I'm a high-ranking member of the police department. And let me tell you we don't appreciate it. And let me tell you something else about Mr. Dell Shaw. As our union president, he got us three raises where we made a wage that we could live on. Unlike Ms. Apple and Barbaro and Black, we live in the real world. And I'm going to bring this up to a bunch of police officers. And I'd be very, uh, I'd be very surprised if Barbaro calls the police or Black or Apple and they key in the residence and some cops come over there too quick.

Mr. Shaw was not convicted of fraud, he was a victim of another man named Kallestad. So, you know, y'all got it all wrong. And then you try to taint Billy Sifuentes, who's a great police officer and served this city for twentysomething years.

So y'all want to play these games, we'll play them with you. And let me [unintelligible] Dell Shaw was a personal friend of a cop that used to run this whole town 10 years ago. And if I call him, and you know who he is, he run the vice squad 10, 12 years ago. If I call him and tell him that y'all have defamed Mr. Shaw, he will personally come to Barbaro's house, and Black's house, and Ms. Apple's house, or he'll send people there, he no longer lives here, he's in San Antonio now, or Houston. But if I call this man, who run this whole town years ago, and got framed by a bunch of punks [end of message].

Ed. note: The Austin Police Dept. has been informed of the phone call, and is investigating.

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