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Controversy surrounds ex-Bardwell chief in Abilene area; later resigns

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HAWLEY, TEXAS -   Former Bardwell Police Chief Michael Chase Meissner is back in the news this week, this time as chief of police in Hawley, Texas.

Monday night, a large crowd of residents of this west Texas town north of Abilene demanded Meissner’s termination for actions he has taken in this town of 1,000 since becoming police chief approximately 60 days ago.

According to both KTAB, a CBS affiliate and KTXS 12, the area’s ABC affiliate, Meissner is now in a swirl of controversy.  

KTXS was contacted at 10:30 p.m. Monday night following their nightly newscast by The Ellis County Press

According to KTXS, at least a dozen residents demanded Meissner’s immediate termination.   There are reports that Meissner may have engaged in illegal conduct as police chief since his employment, among other issues.  

KTAB’s Web site quotes The Ellis County Observer web site as mentioning his troubled past, including numerous jobs, arrests and criminal investigations.  

The Hawley City Council removed all spectators from the city council chambers, according to KTXS, and went into executive session to meet with Meissner. 

Controversy is not new to Meissner; Meissner has a lengthy arrest record, spanning from 2005-2006, and has been the subject of numerous state and local investigations, and disciplinary actions by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

Meissner’s arrest history includes charges for a fraudulent, fictitious, or substandard degree, a Class B misdemeanor in May 2006; being arrested 28 days before becoming chief of police in Caney City, Texas, in addition to charges of tampering with a witness and impersonating a peace officer, both felonies; and two counts of operating a security company without a license.  

Officials with the Public Integrity Unit of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office refused comment as to whether the false degree charge remains for possible prosecution, but other media sources reported the charge remains pending.  

The other charges were dropped after a government document was altered in Bardwell, southwest of Ennis, regarding Meissner’s separation.  

Meissner was arrested on Impersonating a peace officer charges in 2005 after leaving the City of Bardwell as police chief. 

Meissner submitted a notarized letter of resignation and left Feb 2, 2005, after allegedly being forced to resign or face termination.

Meissner was hired as a part-time police chief, without benefits, including compensatory time or sick time.

Meissner is later heard on tape with a former Bardwell police officer discussing how he used “strong arm tactics” to force Bardwell Councilwoman and police commissioner Maggie Walker to change his separation documents – called an F-5 - date and give him a letter of recommendation- an action he and his attorneys allegedly took after his being arrested for impersonating a police officer in Arlington, Texas in 2005 after leaving Bardwell.  

Meissner, after leaving Bardwell on Feb. 2, 2005, continued to work off-duty security without a license, while allegedly impersonating a police officer, namely, police chief of Bardwell, while arresting Matthew McCoy at a bar in Arlington February 11, 2005.   It was after this incident that Meissner needed his F-5, Separation of License Holder form altered to avoid prosecution on the impersonation charges, among the others from 2005.  

Meissner is quoted on tape as to admitting to the forcing of Walker to alter the government document.

The Ellis County Press has obtained a written statement, allegedly from current Bardwell Police Chief Michael Wayne Spurgeon who has handwritten the following on a piece of paper regarding Meissner, coercing Walker to withhold and give false testimony from the grand jury in Tarrant County.

       The statement reads as follows: “To Whom It May Concern:  On August 1, 2005, I was stopped by Maggie Walker’s who is the City Administrator for the City of Bardwell. While I was there she received a phone call from the ex-Chief of Police Michael Meissner.  I could hear Michael’s side of the conversation very well.  I heard Michael Meissner telling Maggie how much money he had spent on lawyer fees and that she needed to say the right thing at the grand jury hearing on the 11th of this month.  Maggie said ‘aren’t you telling me what to say?’   Meissner said ‘no, he couldn’t tell her what to say, because that was against the law.  He then said that he had not told his lawyer that he had talked to her regarding the grand jury hearing.  Meissner again told Maggie if she said the right things at the hearing, that he would get off, and if she did not, that they would have to go to trial.  He told her that she would have to be there for every day of the trial, and that it could last for two weeks or longer.  Michael said that he did not think she could afford that.  Maggie said no and that she was not the one who impersonated a peace officer, you were Michael.   Michael then said if you had put the date for March on his F-5 paperwork, he wouldn’t have. I looked at Maggie and the other lady in the room who was listening to the conversation also and said I believe he was just telling you what to say, and she said she thought so, too.” The statement was signed Michael W. Spurgeon.

It was after the altered F-5 was presented that Meissner avoided prosecution on all charges, following a defense attorney presentation by John Teakell, Meissner’s attorney.  The initials M.M. are referred to on the above cases being dismissed on Teakell’s Web site.  Meissner also has openly admitted this to this reporter.

Meissner is also on tape discussing after the 2006-2007 investigations how he had another law enforcement officer access information protected by the Driver’s License Protection Act, a federal law, and a secure law enforcement database to secure the driver’s license photos of this reporter, Walker, Dallas County deputy constable Jim Gilliland and other police officers, including north Texas area chiefs of police, distributing them on the internet and to other officers and persons. 

All files were transmitted online, and some were delivered by hand from Meissner to another party or parties, according to statements from recipients who provided the files Meissner produced to the affected parties.

A complaint was filed with the Special Crimes Section of the Texas Department of Public Safety regarding the unauthorized access of the Driver’s License Information Retrieval System in November 2007. 

The disclaimer on the Web site, whose login access is restricted “to law enforcement only” states: OFFICIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT USE ONLY This system is for official law enforcement purposes only and is protected under the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act of 1994, as amended, 18 USC 2721 et seq., and the Motor Vehicle Disclosure Protection Act of Texas, Tex Trans Code 730. Improper use of or dissemination of this information can lead to civil and criminal penalties as well as termination of User Agency's access to the system.”

        Meissner is on tape in 2008 admitting his involvement in the identity thefts of multiple officers.

Meissner was police chief in Bardwell from 2002-2005, leaving Bardwell in a forced resignation, originally resigning on Feb 2, 2005. Meissner was later chief of police in Caney City, Texas, after having served as a correctional officer for the Bradshaw State Jail in Henderson, Texas.  

Meissner was later separated under a forced resignation or a termination according to the warden of the prison unit.

Meissner was chief of police in Caney City, Texas from May 28, 2006 until Jan. 31, 2007.    Meissner was investigated by this reporter, among others for his involvement in possible public corruption in Henderson County.  

Meissner was later the subject of investigations by the Public Integrity Unit of the Attorney General’s Office and Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, among other agencies. 

 The Attorney General’s Office refused comment as to whether the investigation was still on-going, but sources said multiple persons have been interviewed and evidence collected for crimes committed in Henderson County since the investigation started at the beginning of this year.

The police department's evidence and most files were removed and destroyed by Meissner in Caney City.

Meissner, according to complaints from local residents in Caney City, among other officials with the local government, said very few files remain; weapons, narcotics, and evidence that were present during Meissner’s administration were missing upon Chief Paul Redic taking office in February 2007.  

City officials immediately locked the evidence room and the chief’s office upon Meissner’s license separation until an inventory could be conducted by multiple agencies. 

It was after this inventory that missing narcotics, weapons, and files were discovered missing, according to previous reports.

Meissner is also on tape with another former Bardwell officer discussing how he and current Mayor Prentice P.W. “Jinker” Gentry entered the evidence room after his termination in Bardwell, and how that evidence was “inventoried by he and the mayor, at 2:30 in the morning to keep Maggie Walker from seeing them at the police department.”  The former Bardwell officer then is heard saying he understood why Meissner and Gentry had “made sure the inventory was correct.”   Meissner was seen by this officer with items out of the evidence room in his personal vehicle.   Meissner was also seen to have burned files in Bardwell, with this officer retrieving some of the files while they were burning.

In 2007, this officer was transporting the evidence and copies of tapes to a secure location, when he stopped at a McKinney pharmacy.  His vehicle was broken into, and the files and tapes taken in a burglary of a motor vehicle.  This officer said unknown persons attempted to burglarize his home prior to this, and that he was being followed by persons he believed to be private investigators.  (Meissner admitted on tape to having private investigators being used to intimidate Walker in Bardwell).   This occurred after it was made public that the officer had these files and audio tapes.   Copies had already been made, and given to Dallas media, and other officers. 

 Multiple copies of the incriminating evidence against Meissner remain secured in locations throughout the area.
         Meissner is accused of burning files on multiple occasions, and destroying nearly all of the city’s criminal and personnel files, including that of current investigations from his tenure, while chief in Caney City.  The same allegations have been made by residents in Bardwell.

          Multiple quantities of narcotics, including methamphetamine and marijuana were missing from Caney City, in addition to numerous firearms.

Prior to being chief in Hawley, Texas, Meissner was chief of police in New Summerfield, a position he held for five days until media pressure forced his termination. 

The media was made aware of his presence and background, and after this was made public, the City of New Summerfield fired Meissner.

Meissner, after Abilene stations reported the Hawley controversy, resigned amid an executive session.

Meissner remained out of law enforcement until being recently hired in Hawley.  While it remains unknown as to the nature of the controversy surrounding Meissner in Hawley, Abilene media sources reported that it has to do with his actions while performing duties as chief.

KTXS Channel 12 Abilene's Tuesday October 7, 2008 news report on Michael Meissner can be viewed by clicking this link:

http://www.ktxs.com/newsroom/newsclips/Hawley_police_chief.wmv


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Nelson Propane

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