You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
News
Vet investigation includes probe of narcotics records

SANTA FE

The case against a local veterinarian charged with rape and sexual battery in Louisiana expanded Wednesday when state authorities raided his Santa Fe practice.

Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and officials with the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, the state licensing board, on Wednesday conducted a raid of The Animal Hospital of Santa Fe, DPS Sgt. Stephen Woodard confirmed.

The state licensing board is leading the investigation, Woodard said.

Officials with the licensing board on Thursday confirmed an ongoing investigation into Todd Michael Glover, 37, of Hitchcock, but declined to provide additional details.

“This investigation is ongoing, and additional details may be available later in the investigation,” said Michelle Griffin, general counsel for the board.

Wednesday’s raid is the latest news of Glover, who has been charged with one count of first-degree rape and three counts of sexual battery in the 33rd Judicial District Court in Allen Parish, according to court records.

Louisiana officials have declined to release information about the pending case against Glover, however, asserting the documents are part of an ongoing criminal case and not subject to state open records laws.

Paul Darrow, the attorney representing Glover, on Thursday said he also had few details about the case. The state hasn’t set a court date for Glover in that case, Darrow said.

Glover’s legal team also had little to say about Wednesday’s raid.

“We’re not exactly sure what that’s about, but we look forward to our day in court,” Darrow said. “He is not currently charged with anything in Galveston County.”

While officials with the state licensing board on Thursday had little to say about the raid, they did suspend Glover’s veterinary license in late January, according to a Jan. 29 suspension order provided to The Daily News.

The board found that Glover was arrested in December and charged in Louisiana, according to the order. Then, on Jan. 15 and 16, investigators inspected two facilities Glover owns, including The Animal Hospital of Santa Fe and Planned Pethood and Petiatric Clinic and Animal Hospital in League City.

“The inspection revealed that respondent’s controlled substance records did not contain required information, including dates of acquisition and quantity purchased,” the order asserts.

Glover’s records did not have accurate balances for ketamine, tramadol and diazepam, the order asserts.

Ketamine is an anesthetic used in veterinary medicine and sometimes misused as a date-rape drug, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Tramadol is an opiate narcotic used to treat pain and diazepam is a generic name for Valium, according to U.S. National Library of Medicine.

“Respondent permitted an employee with a previous controlled substance-related criminal conviction to access respondent’s controlled substances,” the order asserts.

Glover also repeatedly prescribed Adderall, an addictive stimulant, to his own and employees’ animals when it wasn’t therapeutically indicated, the order asserts.

“Respondent’s continued practice of veterinary medicine constitutes a continuing of imminent threat to the public welfare,” the order asserts.

Calls to both offices mentioned in the January suspension order went unreturned by deadline Thursday.

A voicemail answering machine at The Animal Hospital of Santa Fe tells callers that it’s closed until further notice because of unforeseen circumstances.

Employees with the hospital access records or send them to other veterinarian offices, fill prescriptions or schedule appointments, according to the voicemail message.

Employees are working to get the business back up and running, reorganizing and refiling all current medical files, according to the voicemail.

Texas Department of Public Safety officers arrested Glover on Dec. 26 at a Hitchcock residence at the request of the Coushatta Tribal Police Department. Glover was briefly held in the Galveston County Jail as a fugitive from justice before he waived his right to an extradition hearing and was taken to Louisiana, his attorney said.

The Galveston County District Attorney’s Office received documents from Louisiana asking for peace officers to arrest Glover because of pending charges, records show.

Glover was booked into the Allen Parish Jail on Dec. 28, where he stayed through the holidays until a judge gave him a bond during a short court appearance, court officials said. Glover was then released from jail on $90,000 bond, records show.

Charges against Glover on the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office website briefly appeared as rape of someone younger than 13, but that was a filing error and the two women in question were 17, Darrow said in a previous interview with The Daily News.

A person can be charged with first-degree rape in Louisiana if he or she is accused of sexually assaulting someone younger than 13, or if the complainant was incapacitated because of drugs or if extreme force was used, according to state law.


News
Rangers investigating Galveston inmate death, sheriff says

GALVESTON

A 30-year-old Galveston County jail inmate died Thursday morning, according to the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.

The man, whose name had not been released, died after suffering some sort of medical episode Wednesday evening, County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said.

The man was taken to the hospital after he was found to be dehydrated, Trochesset said.

The man was being treated by doctors at the jail before he was transferred to a University of Texas Medical Branch hospital about 6:40 p.m., Trochesset said. He died about 12:44 a.m. Thursday, he said.

The exact cause of the man’s death had not been determined, Trochesset said. The sheriff’s office had asked the Texas Rangers to investigate.

The man had been awaiting trial in the jail since Jan. 4, Trochesset said. He was being held on multiple charges, including assault and unlawful possession of a firearm, Trochesset said.

The man was being held in the jail’s general population and was not receiving medical treatment before Wednesday, Trochesset said.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Erik Burse confirmed that the Rangers had been requested to investigate the death. The Rangers will complete an investigation and give those results to the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office, Burse said.

It will be up to prosecutors to decide whether any charges are filed, Burse said.

This was the first reported in-custody death at the jail since 2017, according to the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

At least four other people have died in jail custody since 2015, according to attorney general’s records and lawsuits filed against the county.

In June 2017, the family of Jorge Luis Cortez filed a lawsuit asserting the county and its contracted medical providers, Boon-Chapman Benefit Administrators Inc. and Soluta Health Inc., failed to adequately treat him while he was suffering from a punctured lung and was too weak to eat. That lawsuit is still pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Cortez’s name does not appear on the state’s list of custodial deaths.

In July 2017, the county reached a settlement agreement with the family of Jesse Jacobs, who died while in the county’s custody in 2015.

Jacob’s family asserted he had been denied medical treatment for withdrawals from an anti-anxiety medication after he turned himself in to serve a 30-day sentence on a DWI conviction.

The state records list two other custodial deaths in 2017.

Jerry Louise Hill, 61, died in November 2017, and Barry Edward Phillips, 65, died in December 2017.

Hill died because of a pre-existing medical condition, and Phillips died of natural causes, according to custodial death reports provided by the attorney general’s office.

No lawsuits had been filed related to those deaths as of Thursday.


News
centerpiece
Some Galveston residents complain new city lights are too bright

GALVESTON

Many island residents have asked for additional lighting to illuminate dark streets for years, but now that crews are installing those lights, some residents worry they’re too bright.

“Those lights are horrible,” East End resident Tim Dudley said. “It’s a problem because it’s lighting up the inside of my house.”

With the bright light in front of his house, it’s difficult to walk down his stairs or use his porch, he said.

Dudley is one of several residents concerned about the brightness of the new lights, stirring a discussion that will influence the city’s master plan for lighting that’s been underway for months.

It’s technically not the brightness he’s referring to, but the color of the lights, Senior Project Manager Pete Milburn said.

“The technical term is Kelvins versus lumens,” Milburn said. “With lumens being the brightness and Kelvins being what we would identify as the color.”

The new lights are LED, which are higher efficiency and save money, as opposed to the older high-pressure sodium lights. LED lights reduce the city’s electric bill by about 40 percent, Assistant City Manager Brandon Cook said.

About 85 percent of the city lights have been converted to LEDs, city officials said.

While the old high-pressure sodium lights had a warmer color and run closer to 2,000K, LED lights installed at the city are 4,000 K, Milburn said.

When the city’s utility provider, CenterPoint Energy, began converting to LED lights in 2015, the 4,000K lights were the commercial standard, CenterPoint spokeswoman Alejandra Diaz said.

It’s important to light the darker areas of the city, but the 3,000K LED lights are a better choice for residents and for the environment, District 6 Councilwoman Jackie Cole said.

“Blue light changes the circadian rhythm,” Cole said.

Exposure to bluer, or higher Kelvin lights, isn’t healthy and lights that are too bright can be a distraction for birds, Cole said.

The nonprofit International Dark-Sky Association recommends LED lights be 3,000K or less, stating this reduces sight-impairing glare, reduces disruptions to sleep and has fewer negative effects on wildlife, according to the association’s website.

The 3,000K lights weren’t an efficient choice at the time the company began converting lights to LED, Diaz said.

“If the city of Galveston was to request 3000K, a discussion on materials and costs would be needed as the streetlights have recently been converted,” Diaz said.

The city does plan to meet with CenterPoint to discuss options, city officials said.

Changes probably won’t come next week, District 3 Councilman David Collins said.

He lives right next to a newly installed street light, he said.

“Some people don’t care for them because they’re pretty bright,” Collins said. “I get about as many people saying they love them.”

Collins wants to explore putting caps on top of decorative street lights that could prevent light from shining up and disrupting birds, but hasn’t explored the associated costs, he said.

The discussion has held up completion of the city’s master lighting plan, Milburn said.

For months, the city has been working on a document to standardize placement of lights and types of light fixtures, Milburn said.

The document aligns lights based on traffic corridors, with more lighting around busier and commercial streets and less lighting in residential neighborhoods or on the West End, city officials said.

Discussions about the appropriate Kelvin levels have, to some extent, held up the document’s completion, he said.

The city will look to incorporate public comment to see what residents prefer, Cook said.

“It all depends on the person you ask what’s ideal,” Cook said.

The brightness of new lights has been an issue for some people, but others are just happy to have some extra lighting, said Jeff Patterson, president of the East End Historical District Association.

“Probably, over time, people will get more used to the brighter LED lights and it will not be so much of an issue,” Patterson said.


News
Consultant takes aim at city as pension talks stall

GALVESTON

With negotiations to reform the city’s ailing police pension system stalled, a Houston-based consultant has launched a campaign arguing the city’s police cars are too old and too few and its retirement benefits too meager.

Three posts on Wayne Dolcefino’s consulting website have blasted the city for not disclosing the locations of patrol cars, the condition and number of cars and for providing officers too little in pension benefits.

His claims aren’t true, City Manager Brian Maxwell and other officials said. The posts were a tactic that has been routine when the city and police union are bargaining, Maxwell said.

“It happens just about every year,” Maxwell said. “It’s not going to change how we do things.”

The city and Galveston Municipal Police Association will begin collective bargaining this summer, a routine process to determine pay and benefits.

Police and city officials have also been locked for months in discussions aimed at reforming the police pension, which has $32.1 million in unfunded liabilities and is out of compliance with state rules, according to actuarial reports. Those talks have reached an impasse, officials said.

Dolcefino’s website released police-related posts March 7, March 11 and Thursday.

Dolcefino, who worked for years as a reporter for ABC Channel 13 and now operates a media consulting firm, wouldn’t say who hired him or how much he’s being paid to write and publish the posts.

“We have a third-party client but it’s not who people think it is,” Dolcefino said. “We were asked by an existing client to do some research.”

The client is an individual, not an association or group, he said.

City officials were told the police union’s political action committee paid for the consulting services, Deputy City Manager Dan Buckley said.

That’s not the case, said committee Chairman Clinton Stevens.

He doesn’t know who paid for the services, and he wasn’t aware of Dolcefino’s posts before Wednesday, he said.

Association President Geoff Gainer also doesn’t know who’s behind the campaign, he said.

“I did not pay for it,” Gainer said. “It’s somebody friendly to us.”

Gainer, who is also chairman of the police pension board, became the association’s new president Tuesday night.

Although he’s not sure who’s behind the campaign, it’s hitting on police concerns, Gainer said.

“There was a long-standing problem with officers showing up to work and not having a unit to drive and there would be units out there but we wouldn’t have keys for them,” Gainer said.

Cars sometime had dead batteries or were not equipped with laptop computers, Gainer said.

He also complained that officers were being denied training.

Some of the issues had already been addressed, and the situation never indicated the department needed more cars, Police Chief Vernon Hale said.

Some of the problem was that officers were taking keys with them when they went off shift, Hale said. The department has a new key check-out system to prevent that, he said. The department also has ended a program allowing officers to take patrol cars home, so it can rotate old cars out of the fleet, he said.

The average age of police cars not in the take-home program is about 44 months, Hale said.

Dolcefino’s March 11 post cites a 2004 police car, but that car isn’t used for patrol, Hale said.

“It’s just wrong,” Hale said.

Hale said he sometimes does deny officers training, because officers sometimes want expensive training at far away places or training unnecessary to their job assignment.

“There’s going to be needs and there’s going to be wants,” Hale said.

The posts began appearing as talks about reforming the police pension ground to a halt.

Police and the city appeared last month to be nearing agreement, but are stalled over the age at which officers can retire, Gainer said.

“We had moved back to changing the retirement age and we hadn’t discussed this in months,” Gainer said.

Police previously have agreed to raise retirement age from 50 to 55 for new hires. The city argued some current officers shouldn’t be able to draw full pensions until 55, Maxwell said.

“They have not moved on contribution and age,” Maxwell said.

Both state Rep. Dan Flynn and Rep. Mayes Middleton have filed bills in the state House of Representatives aiming to reform the police pension.

Police, the city and state lawmakers aim to find a solution to the pension before the 2019 session ends in May.