Thursday, October 20, 2005

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Attorney General Abbott's Fugitive Unit Nabs Parolees Who Disappeared During Hurricane Rita Evacuation

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced his Fugitive Unit has arrested five parolees who went into hiding from law enforcement during the evacuation of the Texas coast in advance of Hurricane Rita.

Emmet Lloyd Lynch of Hidalgo County, Alberto Julian Meza of Corpus Christi, Timothy Allen Peterson of San Antonio, Michael Rodriguez of Fort Bend County, and Cleveland Alfred Wallace of Harris County were apprehended during a roundup that Attorney General Abbott’s Fugitive Unit conducted in late September and October. Law enforcement officers in Hidalgo, Nueces, Bexar and Harris counties assisted in the arrests.

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Emmet Lynch

Timothy Peterson

Alberto Meza

Cleveland Wallace

Michael Rodriguez
Video of Arrest
Video of Rodriguez's arrest

“These parolees took advantage of a natural disaster, thinking authorities wouldn’t notice if they went missing. They were sorely mistaken,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Convicts, especially sex offenders, must realize that we are watching them and will not sit idly by if they choose to violate their parole – even if they do so during a hurricane. I thank the law enforcement authorities who helped us bring these men back into custody.”

During Hurricane Rita evacuation procedures in late September, parole officials instructed Lynch, Meza, and Peterson to transfer from the Reid Community Correctional Facility in Houston to another correctional facility in El Paso. The parolees boarded a bus for El Paso, but at the first stop in Houston, Lynch decided to flee. Meza and Peterson fled after getting off the bus in San Antonio. Parole violation warrants were issued for their arrest on Sept. 24 when they did not report in El Paso.

Warrants were issued on Sept. 22 for Rodriguez and Wallace when they failed to report to their parole officers in Harris County during the hurricane evacuation.

More details about each arrest:

• After departing the bus in Houston, Lynch, 24, traveled to a relative’s residence in Hidalgo County and failed to report his status to his parole officer. He was arrested on Oct. 12 without incident and transported to the Hidalgo County Jail. In 2002 in Hidalgo County, Lynch was convicted of a family violence assault and sentenced to two years in prison. He is currently on parole for that offense.

• Fugitive Unit investigators contacted Meza’s family members on Oct. 12 and stressed that he should voluntarily turn himself in to law enforcement authorities. Meza, 34, subsequently contacted the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office and sheriff’s deputies arrested him Oct. 17 at a family member’s home in Corpus Christi. In 1995, Meza was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted in Nueces County of indecency with a child by sexual contact. The victim was a 14-year-old female.

• Peterson, 49, stayed in San Antonio and rented an apartment. Fugitive Unit investigators and Bexar County sheriff’s deputies arrested him on Oct. 13 without incident at his apartment and transported him to the Bexar County Jail. Peterson was convicted in Bexar County in 1990 on a charge of delivery of methamphetamine and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was paroled in 1992.

• Rodriguez, 44, reportedly cut his ankle monitor off before fleeing during the evacuation. Fugitive Unit investigators received information on Oct. 12 indicating he was in Fort Bend County. He was arrested the same day without incident at a Rosenberg residence and transported to the Fort Bend County Jail. In 1995, Rodriguez was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted in Fort Bend County of indecency with a child by sexual contact. The victim was an 8-year-old girl.

• Fugitive Unit investigators began looking for Wallace, 51, after they were told he evacuated the Houston area prior to receiving his mandated hurricane evacuation instructions. On Oct. 6, investigators contacted the Harris County Sheriff’s Office after discovering that Wallace had shown up at a Houston-area parole office. Sheriff’s deputies then arrested him at the parole office without incident and transported him to the Harris County Jail. In 1998, Wallace was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted in Galveston County of aggravated sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl. He was released in 2002 and is required to register annually as a sex offender. He is currently on parole in Harris County for possession of a controlled substance.

Cracking down on sexual predators is a top priority of Attorney General Abbott’s administration. His Cyber Crimes and Fugitive units have arrested more than 330 sexual predators since he took office in December 2002. The Cyber Crimes Unit has made 66 arrests to date. The Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children, has arrested 233. In addition, the Fugitive Unit has arrested 36 unregistered sex offenders as part of Operation Missing Predator, a statewide initiative launched in April to locate and arrest convicted sex offenders who are not in compliance with sex offender registration requirements.

To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to crack down on sexual predators, visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 252-8011.