A Corpus Christi attorney was arrested over the weekend and accused of smuggling four men from Mexico. According to an offense report obtained by KPRC 2 Investigates, Timothy Daniel Japhet was arrested near the town of Brackettville on Aug. 13 and spent a week in jail.
The arrest involved a state trooper and a Galveston County Precinct 2 deputy constable who was working in the area as part of Operation Lone Star. The deputy constable reported Japhet was driving a BMW with paper plates and failed “to drive in a single lane” while traveling Ranch Road 674.
The deputy constable wrote Japhet “refused to comply” when ordered to turn off his car and exit the vehicle. The trooper and the deputy said they saw three men unrestrained in the backset and a fourth man in the front seat. The deputy reported when she tried to open the car door, “the male then slapped my hand away from the door handle.” The deputy constable wrote Japhet also resisted arrest and claimed to be a judge.
Border Patrol later determined the men in the car were in the country illegally. However, during a phone conversation with KPRC 2, Japhet said he was not smuggling the men, but rather picked up hitchhikers. Japhet said he picked up the men south of Del Rio after leaving the Lucky Eagle casino in Eagle Pass.
“I stopped to let my dog take a (expletive) and a guy walked up and asked for a ride to his jobsite,” Japhet said. “Then three other guys jumped in the backseat.”
Japhet said the men claimed their ride to a jobsite in Del Rio failed to show-up. Japhet said when he arrived at the jobsite in Del Rio, it was closed due to rain.
“The guys then asked me to take them to another jobsite in San Antonio,” Japhet said.
“These so-called hitchhikers were soaking wet, which gave a clear indication they had just come across the river,” said Galveston County Pct. 2 Constable, Jimmy Fullen.
Fullen said Japhet was arrested along a stretch of road frequented by smugglers trying to circumvent an interior Border Patrol checkpoint.
At one point in the conversation Japhet denied crossing the center line, which prompted police to stop his BMW. He then later said he was nervous taking the men all the way to San Antonio so he tried to get pulled over by speeding. He denies resisting arrest.
“I made it clear I would completely comply,” Japhet said. “I am 100-percent certain I would comply because I don’t want to get shot and cops have a tough job.”
Japhet also doesn’t recall claiming to be a judge during his arrest.
“I may have said that in jail trying not to get shanked,” Japhet said.
Fullen disputes Japhet’s assertion he wanted to be stopped by police, pointing out he passed several law enforcement officials who had another car stopped as part of a human smuggling investigation.
“Why didn’t you simply pull up alongside them and tell them, ‘hey guys, I need help.’ Instead he went past them at a high rate of speed and just kept on going,” said Fullen.
While Japhet is facing smuggling charges, he has yet to be in indicted. The Precinct 2 deputy constable wrote she also intends to file resisting arrest charges against Japhet. The State Bar of Texas website shows Japhet has been a licensed attorney since 2003 with no prior disciplinary record.
KPRC 2 Investigates has previously reported on Galveston County law enforcement being sent to the border as part of Operation Lone Star.