FBI investigating EMCID over EarthQuest

The FBI is investigating the East Montgomery County Improvement District, its administrators and some board members, according to a story by The Tribune.

Based on a series of investigative reports by this newspaper, which revealed millions of dollars spent on controversial items, along with equally controversial practices involving the creation of EarthQuest, a dinosaur theme park, The Tribune has learned that the FBI served federal grand jury subpoenas several weeks ago to those close to EMCID. While the complete list is unknown at this time, CEO Frank McCrady, EMCID staff members Suzanne Parmer and Sandy Seelye, and EMCID Board members Leon Cubillas, Leonard Rodgers, Isidor Ybarra, Connie Bloodworth, Vickie Thumann, Sue Rinehart, Linda Floyd and Fred Wetz have all been apprised of the investigation, with some receiving subpoenas. The staff and board were notified earlier this summer. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Rangers also are involved in the investigation.

Board members were called to the EMCID building for a series of meetings where they were introduced to several lawyers. One set, they were told, had been hired to represent the board members while a second set had been retained to represent McCrady and EMCID staff.

Brenda Webb, Marlene Idoux and Dale Martin, elected in May to replace Cubillas and Rodgers (one seat was open after Rinehart stopped attending meetings) in a voter outcry over the EMCID board practices, were not subpoenaed but were brought in to hear explanations by the lawyers.

“We want you to know what is happening with the investigation,” said one lawyer, who urged the staff and board members to keep the subpoenas quiet. He asked that everyone not discuss the investigations with anyone.

The attorneys, one of whom introduced himself as the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, went on to say the FBI has requested numerous documents including credit card statements, board meeting minutes, contracts, etc.

The attorneys said they were representing the board and the staff but warned that if anyone were to get criminal charges filed against them, they will have to hire their own attorney.

The Tribune has learned that EMCID has hired prominent Houston lawyer Rusty Hardin, who, according to his website, represents “major corporations, public agencies and high-profile individuals in both civil and criminal litigation.”

EMCID has spent more than $100,000 in taxpayer dollars in the last two months, with more than $75,000 going to Hardin alone. Several additional law firms have also been paid thousands of dollars. Previously, The Tribune noted that EMCID legal counsel David Marks receives more than $350,000 annually from EMCID.

FBI spokesperson Shauna Dunlap could not confirm the investigation saying the FBI does not discuss investigations that may or may not be occurring.

The Tribune has requested through the Texas Public Information Act, all invoices and check ledgers for year to date and will publish more information as it becomes available.

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