On October 1, 2014, a Walker County grand jury indicted Texas parole commissioner Pamela Freeman for making "a false entry in a government record, to-wit: Parole memorandum, said false entry being that an inmate 'refused to interview.'" Freeman, who was arrested and released on $3,500 bond, faces up to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the third-degree felony charge of tampering with government records.
Freeman is one of fourteen parole commissioners employed by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP). She was assigned to the Huntsville Region parole office.
According to San Antonio parole attorney Kevin Stouwie, on April 30, 2014, Freeman was scheduled to interview at least five prisoners at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Wynne Unit in Huntsville. Board rules made the interviews mandatory because the prisoners had served over 20 years in prison without having previously been interviewed.
The prisoners arrived ahead of time and waited in a room adjacent to the prison's parole office. They could see Freeman through the glass window in the door of the office. At the time the interviews were scheduled to begin, Freeman abruptly packed up her things and left without saying a thing to the waiting men. The men were later told that the interviews had been rescheduled.
However, Freeman told other officials at the Huntsville office that the men had refused to be interviewed. She claimed that they had opted to eat fried chicken in the prison cafeteria instead of being interviewed. She then documented the "refusals" and entered them into the parole board's computer system. All five men were subsequently denied parole.
One of the men had hired Houston attorney Mary Samaan for parole representation. He told her about the events of April 30th. She called the Huntsville office and was told her client had refused the interview. Freeman became belligerent when Samman challenged that claim. Samaan then discussed the possibility of filing a civil suit against Freeman with Stouwie, who offered to help. Stouwie waited a month for the parole board to take action in the matter and, when it failed to do so, filed complaints with state Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston), the chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, and the TDCJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Former Huntsville Parole Board Member Roman Chavez had independently contacted the OIG regarding the events of April 30th. The results of the OIG investigation were turned over to the Walker County District Attorney's Office.
"We've only indicted her for one count, but there are five inmates that we know of," according to Stephanie Stroud, First Assistant District Attorney of Walker County. "You can see how if a person writes, 'they refused to interview' that could negatively affect how the parole board votes."
Freeman, who has been a parole commissioner since 2004, has a "long and troubled history with lawyers who do parole work," according to Huntsville parole lawyer Bill Habern. She has been suspended with pay from her duties pending the resolution of the indictment. BPP chairwoman Reese Owens ordered Chavez's transfer to the newly-created Austin parole office. He did not want to move his family or have them hundreds of miles away. Thus, he was effectively forced to resign as a member of the BPP. As for the five prisoners who were the victims of her alleged crime, no one is saying whether their parole cases will be reconsidered or not.
See: State v. Freeman, Indictment No. 26958, 12th Judicial District Court of Walker Co., Texas (Oct. 1, 2014).
Additional sources: www.texastribune.org, www.houstonchronicle.com, blog.texasparoleattorney.com, www.itemonline.com.
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Related legal case
State v. Freeman
|Indictment No. 26958, 12th Judicial District Court of Walker Co., Texas (Oct. 1, 2014)