WASHINGTON – A former Texas state parole officer was arrested today in Dallas on charges of engaging in a bribery scheme involving one of her assigned parolees, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Texas returned a two-count indictment yesterday charging Nichelle Derricks, 37, of Cedar Hill, Texas, with one count of honest services wire fraud and one count of federal programs bribery.
According to the indictment, while serving as a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) parole officer, Derricks and one of her assigned parolees developed an improper relationship in which Derricks secretly used her official position with TDCJ to enrich herself and others by soliciting and receiving cash payments, gifts, furniture, household goods and items, food and beverages, and other things of value from the parolee in exchange for favorable official action benefitting the parolee. The scheme, according to the indictment, was conducted without the authorization, knowledge or approval of TDCJ and contrary to TDCJ procedures and requirements.
The indictment further alleges that Derricks repeatedly allowed the parolee to violate the terms of his parole by, among other things, permitting him to travel outside Texas without prior, written approval and by allowing the parolee to engage in prohibited financial transactions. According to the indictment, such favorable treatment allowed the parolee to facilitate a massive scheme to defraud investors through an oil and gas company founded and operated by the parolee while he was on state parole.
If convicted, Derricks faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison on the honest services wire fraud charge and 10 years in prison on the federal programs bribery charge. Each charge also carries a maximum $250,000 fine.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys John P. Pearson, Edward P. Sullivan and Jeffrey E. Tsai of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI Dallas Field Office, with assistance from the U.S. Secret Service and the TDCJ Office of Inspector General.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.