The Untouchable

Complaints of racism, dirty politics, and other fishy business simply roll off Denton County's Teflon sheriff, Weldon Lucas

"Is this a legal form of fishing?" a lawyer asks him.

"No."

"And which public officials would you do this for?"

One former employee complains that as Denton County's sheriff, Weldon Lucas, top, and with jailer Tesa Walker, bottom, has presided over two major jail expansions, which should provide more opportunities for blacks to find jobs in the Anglo-dominated department.
Peter Calvin
One former employee complains that as Denton County's sheriff, Weldon Lucas, top, and with jailer Tesa Walker, bottom, has presided over two major jail expansions, which should provide more opportunities for blacks to find jobs in the Anglo-dominated department.

"Well, I just, you know, when someone says, Scott, we need some fish."

"You'd just go up and get them some, wouldn't you?"

"Yes," Scott said.

When asked if Lucas poached some of the fish for his own fund-raising events, Scott replied: "Well, that's what I'm trying to think. If we ever had, I know he didn't know about it. But I have supplied a lot of fish to a lot of people."

Scott said that they stopped the practice in 1995 or 1996.

Lucas steadfastly denies he was involved and claims the fish were caught before his time.

"I never, ever, heard that it was going on. I thought they were netting fish up there illegally, but I hadn't heard them talk about the 'shockathon' and that was before I was sheriff. I know you don't believe that, but that's the God's truth," he says. Then he adds, in very Sopranos-like fashion, "I hope my kids drop dead right now and my friends drop dead right now if I'm telling you a lie about that. I had no idea about it. Never took part in it. And that's the God's truth.

"I can tell you people that were out there that you wouldn't believe. I know people that was out there that would die right now if it came to light.''

Johnny Glass, a one-time sheriff's department deputy and former Lucas pal, is unimpressed by Lucas' denials. Lying is his "modus operandi," Glass says.

"He was there. I was there. He's a lying sack of shit," Glass says with a laugh.

News of the shockathons came to light in 1997 when Glass filed a lawsuit which claimed he was fired after filing a report alleging that Lucas stole county equipment.

"[Shockathons] went on over there every year that I know about since 1983," Glass says.

Glass runs Gainesville Seafood, a converted gas station that offers fresh and frozen radio-wave-free seafood and Louisiana-style meals that Glass personally prepares.

In his lawsuit, Glass claimed he was an exemplary employee who was fired because he reported Lucas' taking home and keeping a metal detector that was supposed to go to the crime lab. Glass says the crime lab supervisor told him about the theft and asked Glass to write a report that said Lucas had taken the metal detector.

Lucas admitted using the equipment but denied any wrongdoing. Glass says he became a marked man afterward and subsequently was fired for missing a meeting and failing to return several pages from the sheriff's department.

In the court case, Glass sought lost wages from 1996 to 1998, and compensation for "pain and suffering." Jurors awarded him $35,000.

In an office next to the seafood market's kitchen, where tropical fish swim on a computer screen, Glass reclines in his swiveling office chair. Sporting a dip of snuff inside his lower lip, he clasps his hands behind his head and grins, satisfied.

"I'm vindicated. I said I don't care if I get one dollar out of this; I want the jury to look at that man and tell him he's wrong, and that's exactly what they did. It hurt him worse than having to give me a bunch of money, because he's so egotistical that he's got everybody snow-jobbed or thinks he's got everybody snow-jobbed that he can't stand the thought of getting beat by a lowly deputy that took him to court and basically kicked his ass.''

Lucas, obviously, is no Johnny Glass fan. During the trial in Sherman, Lucas looked both tired and uncomfortable at times as he sat with the county's attorneys through hours of testimony.

"The truth really, finally came out and the man gets $35,000," says Lucas, who claims Glass has no credibility and would "sell his own mama."

"If Johnny's mouth is moving, he's lying," Lucas says.

Glass counters that Lucas "wants to be able to run people off if they catch him doing something wrong and they mention it. Then he wants to be able to fire them and say, 'Oh, that's a disgruntled ex-employee,' but as far as they're concerned, every ex-employee is a disgruntled ex-employee. Anybody that doesn't work there is disgruntled. That's the way they look at it.

"Most of those people that had an opportunity to get a job someplace else don't work there anymore. They are allowed to stay as long as they don't rock the boat...Anybody that stands up to him is gone."

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One of those former employees who challanged Lucas is Howard Clark, a former patrol deputy who quit and works for the Lewisville Police Department. Clark was the last black man to work in the entire 150-employee law-enforcement side of the department, something he calls the front side of the wall (The "black faces" are kept in jailer positions and away from the public eye, he says.)

"I was told that before [Lucas] took office that he was going to do away with the quote unquote nigger coalition back in the jail, and there would be no black faces on what we call the front side of the wall, which is the admin [administration] and operations, the people that were out in front of the public," Clark says.

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