Billy Bob DA Claims Cleanliness

Rumor that Jackson County's Bobby Bell was popped for cocaine possession unfounded

News flash: Jackson County District Attorney Bobby Bell has not been arrested on drug charges by DeWitt Co. law enforcers – at least not that DeWitt Co. Sheriff Jode Zave­sky is aware of. That's the news from the crack reporting team at KAVU-TV in Victoria, who last week put that nasty rumor to rest – and how. It seems Texas' Golden Crescent has been teeming in recent weeks with rumors about the alleged criminal conduct of longtime DA Bell (aka "Billy Bob D.A.," according to the name plate displayed in his office) – indeed, a rumor that Bell was popped by DeWitt deputies for cocaine possession found its way to my inbox, as well. According to Bell, however, the rumor is not only untrue but also "very hurtful."

Bell is known in these pages as the man behind the questionable prosecution of lifelong Edna, Texas, resident Frederick Patter­son, who Bell alleged was a big-time crack dealer in the sleepy town of fewer than 6,000 residents. Patterson and his wife, Jocelyn, were among 28 black residents (nearly 4% of the town's black population) nabbed in 2002 and identified as crack dealers in an undercover sting coordinated by Edna Police based on the thin and questionable evidence collected by an undercover informant and local crack addict. (Get the lowdown on Bell and the Edna sting in "Crackpot Crackdown," Oct. 21, 2005.) Suffice it to say, Bell isn't the most popular man in town – unless you somehow equate being feared with being popular. Indeed, numerous residents – black, white, and otherwise – have told the Chronicle that Bell wields his power like a hammer. So, it isn't exactly surprising that a rumor he'd been popped (either for drug possession or for drunk driving, depending on the source) spread so quickly. Indeed, it appears the allegation caught on fast enough and spread wide enough that reporters with the Victoria ABC affiliate felt obliged to check it out and to broadcast their findings: Where the rumors came from, Jennifer Gayle reported Jan. 24, no one seems to know. Sheriff Zavesky told the station his office has been getting calls regarding the Bell rumor for weeks – including from state officials wanting to know if Bell was, or had ever been, in his custody. Zavesky said he checked his records and with other local law enforcement agencies but found no evidence Bell was ever in custody. Bell said he was "very upset" about the allegation but that it won't deter him from doing his job "as effective as he can," Gayle reported. Still, Bell lamented, he can certainly understand why people might be "hesitant to get involved in public office, when people can just start a rumor like this that is not only unfounded but has no basis to it."

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More Bobby Bell
Crackpot Crackdown
Crackpot Crackdown
Jackson County's DA has convicted 28 black people on drug charges via manufactured evidence and railroaded trials. Now a small-town exile, her family, and a few neighbors are fighting back

Jordan Smith, Oct. 21, 2005

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Bobby Bell, Frederick Patterson, KAVU-TV, Jennifer Gayle

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