Dirty Cops, Dirty Games

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Despite Maples' act of defiance, by late November, he says, he was "an extreme basket case." Eveline and Maples, who hardly knew each other, had begun to quarrel, and shortly after Thanksgiving, Eveline moved out. But there was a complication: Eveline was pregnant.

She was also, it seems, suspicious. In fact, before going on military leave in September, Maples had taken Eveline to the storage shed where he kept his wampum. Maples showed her the money and claimed he'd won it all gambling.

On December 2, during a conversation with her ex, a DPD officer, Schoovaerts revealed the existence of Maples' stash. Word got back to public integrity, which contacted Eveline, who led them to the site. On Sunday morning, December 6, PI pulled a state district judge out of a church service to sign a search warrant, which detectives executed around noon. The money was gone.

But all was not lost. PI now had the psychological crow bar they needed to pry the truth from Maples.

That afternoon, as previously planned, Maples appeared at the Grand Prairie police station, where Eveline was on duty. Maples thought he and Eveline would exchange property, including Eveline's engagement ring. When Maples showed up, however, Eveline was nowhere in sight; instead, he was confronted by PI detectives McLeod, Lowe, and PI chief Lt. Ron Waldrop.

"The first thing McLeod says [is] 'The deal about Eveline's [engagement] ring is off and she doesn't ever want to see you again,'" Maples recalls. "Then, they say they're from public integrity and they're investigating me."

They asked him about two specific thefts. "I said, 'I don't know what you're talking about,'" Maples recalls. "That's when [detective Carl Lowe] said, 'We know about the $50,000.'"

Maples struggled to stay calm. Four days earlier, he had removed the money from storage, and since then, he had been hauling nearly $50,000 in greenbacks in his Toyota 4-Runner. He left the interrogation and, in a fog, drove back to Dallas.

"I was just trying to figure this all out, who they're talking to and all. It was just...overload.

"I knew the next move was to talk to Roper and tell him they knew about the money. I thought they would probably tell him, 'Look what we got: Maples' girlfriend.'"

Maples says he believed Eveline was in danger. Equally likely, he simply knew the jig was up. He needed leniency from the authorities and he wanted absolution from Eveline, who obviously knew he was crooked, and whom he was desperate to win back. He wanted to marry her, and he wanted the baby.

He went home and called his big sister, Tammie Maples Drown, a housewife in Seguin.

"He told me he and another cop had been stealing money from drug dealers," recalls Drown. "He was crying. I didn't believe him; he'd never done anything wrong in his life. Then he started to get really upset, and I knew he was telling the truth. So I gave him a little sisterly advice. I told him to do the right thing and turn himself in."

Maples alerted the Grand Prairie police that he was coming back to do just that. And later that night, Maples gave his lawyers $49,000 in cash--evidence to be handed over to public integrity.

Part one, dirty cop, was finally over; Part two, frustrated informant, was beginning.

The next morning, Maples' lawyers met with PI detectives and representatives from the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. The negotiations were handled by Assistant DA Mike Gillett, head of then-DA John Vance's public integrity unit and, in the waning days of the lame-duck Vance regime, the real power behind the throne.

"I distinctly recall being told 'we want Roper, and we want anyone else you've got,'" says Brook Busbee, one of Maples' attorneys.

A deal was quickly struck: Maples would get immunity to tell what he knew, and if he cooperated, he would get probation. With the papers inked, Maples' attorney forked over the $49,000.

Maples told his attorneys, and his attorneys told prosecutors, that the money had come not just from his thefts, but from the thefts of Roper and others in Roper's "ring" of dirty cops. The claim made sense to public integrity. The thefts that Maples and Roper worked together netted less than $26,000; Maples' half would have been less than $13,000. Maples' own pathetic little heists tallied up to about $3,000. In other words, somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 had to have come from a source other than Maples.

On Tuesday, December 8, Maples' surrender was all over the paper, complete with a tall tale he'd told Grand Prairie police about having been threatened by drug dealers.

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Christine Biederman