Dirty Cops, Dirty Games

The untold story of Dallas' bigest-ever police corruption scandal. Part two of a special report.

Birdsall says after that, management virtually shut him down. "They refused to let me go back [to the grand jury] with corroboration," Birdsall recalls. "They accused me of piling on."

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Throughout the spring and summer of '99, Clark Birdsall was struggling to keep his job, to keep Roper's case, and to get as much of it as he could to a grand jury. Under the circumstances, he says, expanding the probe to other officers was not a high priority.

Things weren't going well for DPD's Public Integrity Unit, either. Both Maples and Roper's ex-wife said they thought Roper kept money in a safe deposit box in Houston, but with nothing more specific to go on, PI was after a needle in a haystack the size of the Bayou City. PI did know of one safe deposit box in Dallas, but they didn't get around to executing a search warrant on Roper's box until April '99. When they finally opened it, they found no money. They did find something interesting, though, in bank records: Roper had visited the box on dates that corresponded with the alleged thefts.

Quentis Roper, pictured in court, can't believe that investigators took the word of drug dealers, illegal aliens, and prostitutes over one of Dallas' finest. He blames his former partner, disgraced cop Danny Maples.
Peter Calvin
Quentis Roper, pictured in court, can't believe that investigators took the word of drug dealers, illegal aliens, and prostitutes over one of Dallas' finest. He blames his former partner, disgraced cop Danny Maples.

Nor were they getting many new leads from Maples, for by early spring, the relationship between detectives and their star witness had become positively chilly.

It started as a contest for Eveline's loyalty. From the moment she gave them a statement, PI detectives seem to have viewed Eveline as their witness, and any further contacts by Maples as a form of witness tampering. Maples, in turn, viewed the turning of his fiancée as dirty pool, a form of psychological coercion roughly on par with torture on the rack.

It got beyond personal, well into weird. In court, Eveline later admitted she was still sleeping with Maples as late as June 1999--two months after detective Diane McLeod helped Eveline file a harassment complaint against him. Maples wrote Eveline letters, which she read and then turned over to public integrity. Maples knew PI was scouring his mail, so he filled his letters with disinformation and provocations. Not surprisingly, PI detectives developed an almost visceral dislike for Danny Maples, and vice versa.

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With the DA's one-man integrity squad preoccupied and DPD integrity pissed off, the task of prying the truth out of Maples fell largely to internal affairs.

A DPD unit that reports directly to the police chief, internal affairs is charged with recommending officer discipline for a wide range of crimes and misdemeanors. Though they can't make criminal cases, they do have an important weapon: They can force officers to give statements or else lose their jobs.

As always, there's a catch. Since an officer has no Fifth Amendment right not to participate in this process, courts have ruled that IAD statements cannot be used against cops in a criminal proceeding. Dallas city attorneys' rulings have interpreted this to mean that, absent a court order, IAD can't share its files with DPD public integrity or the DA's office.

Working under these rules, on June 21, IAD sergeants Gary Brown and Julian Bernal sat down for the first of three marathon sessions with Maples. At first, it looked like they might need truth serum; Maples was clinging to a hoary old saw about drug dealers threatening his loved ones, and suggesting that he, personally, never took anything from anybody.

But Brown and Bernal were veteran interrogators: patient, shrewd, and able to pinpoint Maples' weaknesses. They encouraged his desire for absolution. They sympathized with the extenuating circumstances. They played to his deep-seated need to please those in power. Bernal's superbly rendered good-cop routine finally broke Maples; by the end of a session on July 1, he was pledging to spill his soul to PI, even to the evil detective McLeod.

Maples followed through. During two meetings in July 1999, Birdsall and the PI detectives debriefed Maples, and this time, they came away confident he was telling the truth. Asked about every theft in the two indictments, Maples confessed his crimes.

"Gradually," Birdsall recalls, "Maples did come clean. The detectives thought so, too."

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Maples' final IAD interview took place on September 24, 1999. This transcript is markedly different from earlier ones, free of stuttering and evasions. Maples is clearly unburdening himself, spilling all kinds of details.

For example, Maples told IAD he was present when Roper hired, ahem, "topless dancers" (read: prostitutes) to entertain at a private "get-together" during which at least two officers availed themselves of the ladies' services. Two other officers told IAD similar tales, and Roper himself admitted arranging such evenings on at least five occasions. In the instance Maples referred to, Roper used Maples' cell phone to summon the lads and lasses in attendance.

That's just one with easy corroboration. Maples told IAD about bad traffic stops and invalid searches on certain arrests. He named officers whom Roper had told Maples were in on specific thefts, including at least one officer who knew Maples was stealing, but allegedly covered for him.

Little of this seems to have been news to IAD. Since December, internal affairs had been doing its own investigation into the thefts--those involving Maples as well as those in which Roper pinched the loot while other officers were present in the same room or close by. By the time of Maples' statement, they had compiled a thick stack of witness and officer affidavits--documents that tend to back up what Maples had to say.

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