Shadows of the Past

A timeline of APD's troubles over the past 13 years

Much of the discord within the Austin Police Dept. has its roots in a series of public scandals and internal battles that reach back more than a decade. The recurrent theme is a claim by officers that investigations of alleged corruption remain unresolved.

1989: Senior Sgt. Byron "Bubba" Cates becomes supervisor of APD's vice unit. Internal APD complaints lead to an Internal Affairs investigation; among the allegations against Cates are that he used excessive force against a massage parlor owner, that he traveled to Las Vegas with a prostitute, and that while off-duty he entered a local massage parlor and demanded sex.

1990: Cates is terminated by APD Chief Jim Everett. Federal investigators level several racketeering charges against Cates, including running a prostitution ring. In June, four state misdemeanor charges are added, including official oppression; in December, the Feds add two charges of extortion.

1991: Police raid the home of Austin businessman Charles Kallestad (reportedly a friend of APD Lt. Dell Shaw). Kallestad is charged with the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl who tells police that she answered an ad for nude models and Kallestad videotaped them having sex at his house. The raid seizes videotapes and thousands of photos -- some featuring a handful of APD officers. Pending further investigation, APD announces it is "assured" that none of the photos show officers in compromising situations. Shaw is placed on restricted duty pending investigation of his relationship with Kallestad, including whether he helped Kallestad hide his assets from a nearly $1 million court judgement against him. In December, FBI and IRS raid Shaw's house. Investigation reveals that Shaw is the owner of Kallestad's house.

November: Cates is convicted on two of seven federal charges, including using interstate commerce to promote or distribute the proceeds of prostitution; he is sentenced to 16 months in jail.

1992: Cates is sentenced to an additional year in jail on a state misdemeanor charge. Chief Everett announces retirement. Kallestad is indicted on 10 counts of federal bank fraud, Shaw on eight counts of bank fraud. APD suspends Shaw. In August, Elizabeth Watson is hired as APD chief.

1993: Kallestad is convicted on three counts of providing false information to Texas Commerce Bank, Shaw on two counts of falsifying bank loan documents. Kallestad is sentenced to 121 months and fined $50,000; Shaw to 32 months and $10,000.

1995: Watson names Mike McDonald APD's first black assistant chief. The joint federal/APD narcotics task force investigation code-named Mala Sangre ("Bad Blood") begins.

1997: January -- Watson resigns to take a job with the Dept. of Justice and is replaced by interim Chief Bruce Mills. A month later, a city audit of APD reports low officer morale and widespread mistrust of management. Mala Sangre's primary target is busted bringing nearly a ton of marijuana into Texas.

March: Capt. Joe Putman tells federal investigators that while a supervisor of APD's sex crimes unit, he'd halted a 1992 investigation into the possible sexual assault of an underage girl by a high-ranking police officer.

June: Three APD investigators are transferred from Mala Sangre despite pending investigation of criminal allegations against numerous officers; officer Jeff White is assigned to conclude the two-year-old case.

July: Two separate whistleblower lawsuits filed by Capt. Cecil Huff and Sgt. Jack Kelley in district court. Both officers allege that in 1996 Putman retaliated with transfers after they expressed their concerns about his "possible illegal or unethical behavior" in connection with his relationship with Cates and Shaw. Putman had become head of the department's Organized Crime Division, and Huff and Kelley claim they feared retaliation against officers who'd provided information during investigations of Cates and Shaw.

August: Federal investigators announce no charges against Putman, and say they were unable to find evidence that the 1992 investigation Putman said he halted ever existed. Nonetheless, on Aug. 28, Mills fires Putman for lying to the feds and for bringing discredit to the department.

October: Putman appeals termination to the Civil Service Commission, saying he'd invented the 1992 investigation in order to pre-empt charges he expected Kelley would level against him and Assistant Chief Mike McDonald -- as a way to have investigators clear in advance his (and presumably McDonald's) name. During the civil service hearings, Kelley describes the investigation into Kallestad and Shaw as inadequate, says that he suspected the scandal also involved then-Sgt. Mike McDonald, and that Putman and McDonald are part of a group of officers who "conspired against him and others who bucked them." McDonald, the department's highest-ranking black officer, receives a written apology from City Manager Jesus Garza for being dragged into the legal mess, and $38,000 from the city to cover his attorney fees. The CSC reinstates Putman despite his acknowledged lies.

October: Stan Knee is sworn in as APD's new chief.

1999: Mala Sangre investigator Stan Farris and IRS investigator Wayne Young draft a summary of criminal allegations against APD officers related to the Mala Sangre investigation. In a deposition Young testifies that the draft was prepared for Chief Knee, to warn him of the lingering allegations.

2001: City settles whistleblower lawsuit filed by Mala Sangre investigators Farris, David Gann, and Dennis Clark, "with the parties continu[ing] to disagree about what other investigative actions could have or should have been taken."

2002: Officer Jeff White files a whistleblower lawsuit (still pending) against APD alleging retaliation in connection with his investigation of Mala Sangre.

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