DA: Probe into deadly drug raid ends with 2 more indictments

HOUSTON (AP) — A long-running corruption probe sparked by a 2019 Houston police drug raid in which a couple was killed has ended with new indictments against two officers already charged in the case, authorities announced Wednesday.

Former Officer Gerald Goines and Officer Felipe Gallegos, who were part of the narcotics squad that carried out the deadly raid, were indicted Wednesday for their roles in an alleged scheme to claim overtime payments for work they did not perform. Each is charged with engaging in organized criminal activity.

Authorities began investigating the narcotics squad after the January 2019 drug raid in which Dennis Tuttle, 59, and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, 58, were killed.

A dozen officers tied to the squad have been indicted since then. Most of the officers face charges related to the alleged overtime scheme, allegations of falsifying documentation about drug payments to confidential informants or for allegedly lying on police reports.

Goines, 56, and Gallegos, 33, are the only officers charged with murder in the raid. Goines, who was indicted on seven counts in state court, is also facing federal charges. If convicted of murder, Goines and Gallegos could each face up to life in prison.

Prosecutors allege Goines, who led the raid, lied to obtain the warrant to search the couple’s home by claiming a confidential informant had bought heroin there. Goines later said there was no informant and that he bought the drugs himself, they allege. Police found small amounts of marijuana and cocaine in the house, but no heroin.

“We are honored to stand behind Mr. Goines. We are eager to see the evidence in this matter and very much look forward to vigorously defending this good man in court,” Nicole DeBorde, Goines’ attorney, said Wednesday.

Rusty Hardin, an attorney for Gallegos, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said the indictments mark the end of the corruption probe.

“Now it’s time to get this case to trial before a jury of Harris county residents, so the public can learn exactly what occurred on January 28, 2019, and determine whether or not these defendants will be held accountable for their crimes,” Ogg said.

Prosecutors have dismissed more than 160 drug convictions tied to Goines and they are still reviewing other cases connected to him and the narcotics squad.

Earlier this month, Patricia Garcia became the first person sentenced in the case for making false 911 calls that resulted in the drug raid.

In January, the families of Tuttle and Nicholas filed federal civil rights lawsuits against the city and 13 officers.

Michael Doyle, one of the attorneys for Rhogena Nicholas’ family, has been critical of the district attorney’s office investigation.

“The Nicholas family remains disappointed that the District Attorney’s Office did not fully investigate what happened before, during and after the murderous raid,” Doyle said.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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