Deputy U.S. Marshal Benjamin Bates pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice today in federal court in San Antonio for tampering with a witness he was transporting to the grand jury to testify about civil rights abuses at the Bexar County Adult Detention Center in Texas. In his plea agreement, Bates agreed to resign from the U.S. Marshals Service and to never again seek employment in law enforcement. The defendant was sentenced to one year of probation.
According to documents filed in court, Bates admitted to attempting to delay and dissuade the witness from testifying truthfully before the grand jury by attempting to minimize the incident the witness was to testify about, and by suggesting ways the witness could delay or avoid testifying. In addition, Bates admitted to telling the target of the grand jury’s investigation that the witness would be testifying.
"In order for the grand jury to fulfill its vital role in our criminal justice system, it is of paramount importance that the names of witnesses not be disclosed and that witnesses not be discouraged from providing full and truthful testimony," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "By his conduct, Deputy Bates compromised the system and betrayed his badge."
The FBI investigated this case and it was prosecuted by Gerard V. Hogan and James D. Walsh with the Civil Rights Division.