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Federal Lawsuit Alleges Haltom City Jail Conspiracy

Byron Harris

An organized ring of police officers and jailers picked up women for minor traffic offenses, then sexually victimized them in jail.

The lawsuits charge that at least ten, possibly more than a hundred, women became victims in a conspiracy among three policemen and three or more jailers.

One woman said that the jailer was using the billy club as a potential weapon, forced her to perform a sex act. It was the first of four times she was raped in 21 days.

Michael Pezzulli, an attorney who represents the women said, “He was running the jail as if it was a candy store, where he could pick out whatever he wanted, take them out, molest them and put them back in their cells.”

One of the girls stated, “He grabbed me by the hair.” “He had a black stick in his hands, and I was terrified.”

The girl spent six days in the Haltom City jail and was molested on her final day. She said, “He made me undress in front of him.” The he said, “You can’t say anything to a cop, because they can get you in more trouble.”

Judge Jack Byno is the municipal judge that put the woman in the jail for truancy. Some say Byno is more than tough, some say he is arrogant and capricious, and that poor defendants without a lawyer receive questionable justice from him and the Haltom City police.

Other women who appeared in front of Judge Byno had other stories about what happened to them.

One woman was arrested for a ticket she had paid, not once, but twice. In the patrol car when police took her to jail they could see there were no warrants for her arrest on their computer. Judge Byno grudgingly admitted the arrest was a mistake.

Byno holds down two jobs as a municipal judgeship and a private legal practice. The Haltom City council just gave Byno a raise to $60,000 a year plus $6,000 in benefits.

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