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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

Jan. 14, 2011

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

HARRIS COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFF AND FOUR OTHERS CHARGED WITH COCAINE TRAFFICKING

(HOUSTON) – A Houston grand jury has indicted a Harris County Sheriff’s Department deputy and four others for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. The indictment was returned Jan. 5, 2011. 

Richard Bryan Nutt Jr., a Harris County deputy sheriff, along with Richard Jerome Banks, 38, John Edward Scott, 34, Danny Wayne Bell, 40, and Nathaniel House, 37, are accused in a one-count indictment of conspiring together to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. Nutt, 43, of Humble, Texas, was arrested on Dec. 15, 2010, and has been released on a $50,000 bond. Banks, Bell and Scott, all of Houston, were also taken into custody along with Nutt and have been ordered detained without bond pending trial. House, of Houston, was arrested on Tuesday of this week and remains in custody pending a detention hearing set for today at 2:00 pm.

According to federal criminal complaints filed against each defendant on Dec. 20, 2010, the Houston Police Department (HPD) Narcotics Division initiated undercover sting operation after receiving information that members of law enforcement were suspected of detaining traffickers, seizing the contraband, releasing the trafficker, then providing the narcotics to local dealers to distribute in the Houston area. 

The affidavits in support of the complaints asserts that on Dec. 15, 2010, HPD officers deployed a vehicle containing approximately one kilogram of cocaine driven by an undercover officer, a “bait” vehicle, which remained under constant surveillance by HPD narcotics officers. Suspects were told the vehicle contained contraband. During surveillance of the “bait” vehicle, when HPD officers had reason to believe the “bait” vehicle was being followed by several other vehicles, the “bait” vehicle was parked in a parking lot near the East Freeway in Houston. HPD surveillance officers saw three different suspect vehicles conducting surveillance on the “bait” vehicle before they saw the suspects stop and enter “bait” vehicle. 

Throughout the surveillance period, a tracking device was affixed to the packages of cocaine. Officers tracked the signal to a Blue 4-door Nissan Altima as it exited the parking lot with the packages of cocaine from the “bait” vehicle. According to the complaint, Banks, the driver of the Altima, was accompanied by Nutt, who was the front seat passenger. Nutt was wearing a Harris County Sheriff’s Office police uniform and carrying his firearm. Officers recovered the packages of cocaine from underneath the front passenger seat where Nutt was seated. Both Nutt and Banks were arrested.

Meanwhile, the complaint alleges that the “bait” vehicle, which also contained a tracking device, was stolen by other members of the alleged conspiracy. Officers tracked the “bait” vehicle to a residence on the 2000 block of Eubanks in Houston. A hidden compartment in the “bait” vehicle had been opened. Bell, who allegedly resides at the Eubanks residence, and Scott, who was at the residence, were arrested after officers discovered approximately 14 pounds of marijuana, 14 firearms and approximately 300 grams of cocaine. House drove the “bait” vehicle across town to the Eubanks residence. 

A conviction for conspiring to possess 500 grams or more of cocaine carries a minimum of five years and a maximum term of prison of 40 years and a $5 million fine.

The investigation resulting in the arrests was conducted by the Internal Affairs and Narcotics Divisions of the Houston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney James McAlister is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

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