Former Dallas Police Officer Sentenced to 30 Months for Lying About Conversations With Ok Corral Owner
A former Dallas police officer was sentenced Thursday evening to 30 months in federal prison for lying to federal agents about his role in obstructing an FBI investigation into a nightclub magnate later convicted of a massive drug conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.
Eddie Villarreal, 53, pleaded guilty in January 2018 to making a false statement to the FBI. He was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay, who ordered him to pay a fine of $10,000.
“This is not what a police officer is supposed to do. It is the opposite,” Judge Lindsay remarked at sentencing. “When that trust is broken, a police officer must be held accountable, that’s the bottom line.”
According to his plea papers, during his tenure as a Dallas police officer, Mr. Villarreal also served as head of security for Alfredo Hinojosa, the owner of a string of nightclubs including Ok Corral and Far West, and routinely assisted Mr. Hinojosa and his employees with criminal matters.
On April 14, 2014, Mr. Villarreal admitted, he answered a call from club promoter Martin “Chava” Rodriguez, who informed Mr. Villarreal that he suspected he was being followed by law enforcement. (In fact, he was being tailed by FBI.) Mr. Villarreal instructed Mr. Rodriguez to pull over, then drove out to meet him.
Upon arriving, Mr. Villarreal pulled up behind the FBI vehicle and activated his red and blue emergency lights. After confirming the vehicle’s occupants were FBI agents, he introduced himself as a DPD officer and offered to help them with their investigation into Mr. Rodriguez. In reality, Mr. Villarreal later admitted, he never intended to assist the FBI, but rather wanted to learn more about the investigations in order to pass the information along to Mr. Hinojosa, Mr. Rodriguez, and others.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Villarreal called one of the agents and provided information about a target who he said was dealing cocaine out of nightclub bathrooms. He later admitted that he did so in order to deflect attention from Mr. Hinojosa.
The following day, FBI agents called Mr. Villarreal to advise him of a grand jury investigation into Mr. Rodriguez and others.
Subsequent to that conversation, Mr. Villarreal admitted, he visited Mr. Hinojosa at his office and informed him of the investigation and its targets, telling Mr. Hinojosa, “you got detectives that don’t know anything about you… I can get in trouble if they think I’m warning you.” Upon learning that the FBI might be surveilling his nightclubs, Mr. Hinojosa said he wanted to “tighten down” on drug sales in club bathrooms.
On May 7, 2015, FBI agents reached out to Mr. Villarreal to ask if he had informed anyone of the Rodriguez stop or grand jury investigation. Mr. Villarreal denied any such disclosures.
He resigned from the police department five months later, in October 2015.
“By alerting his clients to an ongoing investigation, Mr. Villarreal undermined the hard work of his law enforcement colleagues and sullied his badge,” said U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham. “He took an oath to serve and protect – and promptly did the opposite. The Justice Department will not allow this kind of misconduct to go unpunished.”
“The public expects police officers to be honest, trustworthy, and to prioritize protecting their community from dangerous individuals. The defendant not only failed to protect his community, but also lied to a fellow law enforcement officer. He provided sensitive information that could have jeopardized the outcome of a criminal investigation. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will hold accountable any officer that breaks the law and endangers the lives of others,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno.
Mr. Hinojosa and Mr. Rodriguez were later convicted at trial of managing drug premises, conspiracy to manage drug premises, and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Multiple witnesses testified that the pair knew drug trafficking was occurring on their premises and openly ordered security personnel to allow it. Mr. Hinojosa and Mr. Rodriguez are now facing up to life in federal prison. Their sentencing has been set for June 3 and July 22, respectively.
More than 30 defendants – including Mr. Villarreal’s former DPD colleague, Craig Woods – have been convicted in connection with the case.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation, dubbed “Operation Closing Time,” with the assistance of the Dallas Police Department. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's Enforcement Division provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorneys P.J. Meitl, Errin Martin, Nicole Dana, and Melanie Smith prosecuted the case.