HOUSTON—Former long-time Harris County Precinct One Constable Jack Abercia has been convicted on 11 counts of exceeding authorized computer access, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today, along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris. Also entering guilty pleas today were Weldon Kenneth Wiener, his former chief lieutenant, and Michael Butler, his former office chief. Weiner and Butler were convicted on one count of conspiracy.
The three Houston residents were charged in an indictment returned Tuesday, January 10, 2012.
Today, Abercia admitted as part of his plea that he unlawfully accessed the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database on multiple occasions for private financial gain at the time he served as Harris County Precinct One Constable. NCIC is restricted to genuine law enforcement purposes. Users must undergo training and screening, have passwords that are monitored, and are instructed that the database is not to be used for non-law enforcement reasons nor beyond in the performance of their official duties. Abercia was convicted of 11 specific acts of unauthorized access or access in excess of official authority in November 2011, but court documents allege the practice had been occurring in the office for a longer period of time.
The investigation revealed Abercia performed background checks for various contractors in return for money. Weiner and Butler admitted they conspired to perform those background checks. On one occasion, Abercia was approached and offered $3000 for having computer searches conducted on four prospective employees. Weiner was also at that meeting. After receiving the money, Abercia said, “God willing, this money will go towards my elevator.” The factual basis in support of the plea indicated he had been considering having an elevator installed in his residence for health reasons but never did so.
Abercia offered to arrange for more searches but stated that Weiner must be paid as well.
In total, Abercia received $9,000, while Weiner was paid $1,000 for his part in having the NCIC searches conducted.
Butler admitted as part of his plea that he was informed of an improper search and had a duty to report but failed to do so.
U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison, who accepted the guilty pleas, has set sentencing for November 26, 2013. At that time, Abercia faces up to five years in federal prison for each count of exceeding authorized computer access. For their conspiracy convictions, Weiner and Butler also face up to five years’ imprisonment. All counts also include a possible fine of $250,000.
They were permitted to remain on bond pending their sentencing hearing.
This case was investigated by the FBI Houston Law Enforcement/Border Corruption Task Force with special assistance from the Houston Police Department-Internal Affairs Division and the Texas Rangers and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wynne.