“Between this and everything else Todd Staples has done as a State Senator andAgriculture Commissioner, we have a pattern of questionable activities, malfeasance, andcomplete and total disregard for human life,” said Hank Gilbert, the Texas DemocraticParty’s nominee for Agriculture Commissioner. “People need to think seriously about the person they want as Commissioner, someone who has abused his power on multipleoccasions and is interested only in his own future, or someone who is interested in endingthe dysfunction at TDA and making it work again for the people of Texas,” Gilbert said.--30--
After rising to a high level in an illegal and criminal enterprise that bilked EastTexas residents out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, Agriculture Commissioner ToddStaples, while a member of the Texas House, voted to change Texas law to help his brother-in-law escape prosecution and was accused of conspiring with local electedofficials to fire the officer that investigated his and his brother-in-law’s illegal activities.According to criminal court records in Anderson County, court files from the 3
Judicial District Court, records from the Palestine Police Department, and files from theTexas Attorney General’s Office, Todd Staples was a participant in and rose to the levelof “Executive Vice President” in an endless chain scheme known as the Friend’s Gifting Network, a pyramid scheme that bilked East Texans out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and resulted in multiple criminal prosecutions—including for Staples’ brother-in-law, who was one of the organizers of the illegal scheme.Police records show the Friend’s Gifting Network was subject to a massiveundercover police investigation and raid in the spring of 1994. Court and police recordsshow that Staples, a participant in the “network” who managed to move up to the level of an “Executive Vice President” in the scheme by bilking East Texans out of their hard-earned money, managed to escape prosecution, as did an employee in the AndersonCounty District Attorney’s Office. In spite of pleas from the Palestine City Attorney thatnumerous other leaders in the scheme, presumably including Staples, be prosecuted, theAnderson County District Attorney’s Office failed to seek the assistance of the TexasAttorney General’s Office to prosecute the case.Court records further show that, shortly after Staples’ brother-in-law was formallycharged with managing the scheme, the case was placed on hold and that no action wastaken in the case until after Staples became a member of the Texas House of Representatives.Shortly after Staples became a member of the Texas House, he had theopportunity to vote on legislation altering the statutes under which his brother-in-law was prosecuted. The newly enacted legislation moved the offense out of the Texas Penal Codeand authored the definitions of the offense in such a way that a special prosecutor wasforced to dismiss charges against Staples’ brother-in-law.According to additional court records, shortly thereafter, Staples became involvedin a series of events leading to the removal of a narcotics officer who arrested his brother-in-law and was the lead officer investigating the Friend’s Gifting Network.