Abercia arrested on conspiracy charges

Published On: Jan 12 2012 09:48:54 AM CST   Updated On: Jan 12 2012 06:27:29 PM CST
HOUSTON -

Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Jack Abercia has been arrested following the return of a 13-count federal indictment, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson said Thursday.

Abercia's Chief Lt. Weldon Kenneth Wiener, 72, and Office Chief Michael Butler, 56, were also indicted.

The indictment charges all three with conspiracy to violate various federal laws, and charges Abercia, 78, and Wiener with unlawfully accessing the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database on multiple occasions for private financial gain. The indictment claims Abercia accepted $9,000 for 11 computer searches that were run in November.

Abercia and Butler are also charged with bribery in connection with the hiring of an otherwise unqualified applicant for a deputy constable position in return for a cash bribe of $5,000.

"I've known Constable Abercia for a long time," said Rusty Hardin, Abercia's attorney. "He's had a very honorable and long service with the county and I look forward to finding out what the government says it thinks he did wrong."

Abercia appeared in court Thursday morning and pleaded not guilty. He was released on $50,000 bond.

"Better get your (expletive) out of the way, I'm telling you," Abercia said as he left jail.

His trial was scheduled for February.

Wiener and Butler were scheduled to be arraigned next week.

If convicted of the conspiracy charge, they face up to five years in prison.

Abercia and Wiener will also face an additional five years in prison for each count of exceeding authorized computer access, while Abercia and Butler could also receive an additional 10 years in prison if convicted of the bribery charge.

All 13 counts also include a possible fine of $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release on each count.

Abercia was expected to retire at the end of January. He has been Precinct 1 constable since 1991.

Abercia has been facing numerous health problems in the past couple of years and is currently battling cancer.