Legal nightmare ends for the Richardson family

Mark and Vergil Richardson

District Judge Robert Mohoney has dropped all criminal charges against Mark Richardson, Vergil Richardson, Jermichole Richardson and Xavier Richardson, bringing a three-year legal nightmare to an end. 

This ruling comes as no surprise.  Once Judge John McCraw Jr. forced the presiding judge, John Miller, to recuse himself, the outcome was virtually automatic.  Judge Mahoney was appointed to replace Miller and it didn’t take him long to make the only sensible call available to him.

The big surprise in this case is that charges were filed against these defendants in the first place.  No one has ever accused the Texas Attorney General’s office of being soft on drug crime, but when Nicole Habersang reviewed the facts she knew what she had to do.  That’s when things got really strange.   When Ms. habersang filed a motion requesting that charges against all but one defendant be dropped, Judge Miller refused to cooperate. 

John Miller refused to play ball with the AG’s office because Vergil and Mark Richardson had filed a civil suit against a number of Red River County officials.  Miller wanted a quid pro quo: You drop your suit and I’ll cooperate with Ms. Habersang.  

Miller wandered out of bounds for a simple reason: Red River County is represented by a rogue prosecutor named Val Varley and the Judge is too enmeshed with his colleagues to grasp the obvious.

When the Richardson’s civil suit is revived in federal court, Judge Miller will have the issues spelled out for him.

Friends of Justice has been monitoring this case since we were contacted by Mark and Vergil almost three years ago.  Special thanks to Harvard student and Friends of Justice intern, Pierre Berastain for working hard in Red River County while most of our key leaders were in Winona for the Curtis Flowers trial.

The article below does a good job of recounting the salient facts in this case.

Charges dropped against former Liberty-Eylau basketball coach

By: Staff Reports – Texarkana Gazette -Published: 10/16/2010

CLARKSVILLE, Texas—Criminal charges have been dismissed against a former Liberty-Eylau basketball coach and his brother who were arrested nearly three years ago after a drug raid.

Mark and Vergil Richardson were among six arrested Nov. 17, 2007, after a raid on South Columbia Street. The brothers say they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The orders to dismiss the charges against them were signed Oct. 8.

“Justice has finally been served,” Mark Richardson said. “We’ve been through so much humiliation and embarrassment.”

Vergil Richardson has not been able to work as a coach since his arrest.

“I’m looking forward to getting my life back,” he said. “I’ve been so torn down.”

The Richardsons were visiting their half-brother, Kevin Calloway, when Clarksville Police Department and Red River County Sheriff’s Office executed a “no knock” search warrant. The raid was sparked after Calloway allegedly sold marijuana to an undercover officer earlier in the day in front of the house.

Drugs were found in a locked, backyard shed. Calloway told investigators the drugs were his and that the others arrested were unaware of illegal substances.

The Richardsons have maintained they had no idea drugs were on the property.

District Attorney Val Varley participated in the raid. He wore body armor and carried a shotgun. Because his presence made him a potential witness, Varley recused himself as prosecutor. Assistant District Attorney Nicole Habersang was appointed to handle the case.

Indictments were handed down for the Richardson brothers and three others visiting Calloway at the time of the raid—Xavier Richardson, Jermichole Richardson and Edward Richardson.

Calloway pleaded guilty last year and received a term of probation.

Habersang filed motions to dismiss the charges against the Richardson brothers and their co-defendants, but 102nd District Judge John Miller refused to sign the documents. Miller scheduled the cases for trial in September.

On Nov. 19, 2009, before Miller’s denial of the motions to dismiss, Texarkana attorney Mark Lesher filed a lawsuit alleging the Richardson brothers’ civil rights were violated by Varley; Red River County; Sheriff Terry Reed; Deputy Robert Bridges; Justice of the Peace Shelly Benton; Clarksville Police Chief Brandon Harbison; and the city of Clarksville. The complaint states that the Richardson brothers were not mentioned in the search warrant, which appears to have been signed after the raid began.

The civil case was put on hold per a federal judge’s order pending resolution of the criminal cases.

In July, Lesher, who represented Mark Richardson in his criminal case, and Texarkana attorney Clyde Lee, who represented Vergil Richardson, filed motions asking the administrative judge with authority over Miller’s court to remove him from their cases.

The motions accused Miller of refusing to grant the AG’s motions to dismiss the cases because of the civil suit.

District Judge John McCraw Jr. on Aug. 23 signed orders recusing Miller from the cases of Mark Richardson, Vergil Richardson, Jermichole Richardson and Xavier Richardson. McCraw appointed retired Lake Whitney District Judge Robert Mohoney to preside over the cases.

Mohoney signed orders to dismiss the charges.

Edward Richardson’s attorney did not file a motion for recusal. Miller dismissed the charges against him Sept. 13.

Lesher described the brothers as “vindicated” and said he will file documents in federal court that will cause the Richardson brothers’ civil suit to proceed.

Vergil Richardson expressed appreciation for the work of Lesher and Lee.

“Those two guys have been in our corner since day one. They really believed in us.”

Vergil Richardson said he is also grateful to Habersang.

“My family and I would like to thank her. She did the right thing for justice.”

15 thoughts on “Legal nightmare ends for the Richardson family

  1. I sit back and think about when all this happened, and i question myself how in the world we made it through this and i must say God is good. The Lord placed people in my life that i can really call friends. I want to thank Dr. Bean and the friends of justice for all their support through this long process.

  2. Dr. Bean, you and your team are a great bunch of people. Pierre was one special, brilliant and kind person. We will never forget him.

    I don’t believe this would have ever happened without the exposure you all placed on this story. It just seemed to keep everyone going to know that another story was breaking any day.

    Don’t leave us. We still need you. One of these days, we hope for a huge celebration with your team included right here in Red River County–once it is all cleaned up.

    God bless the Richardson family and yes, they have been through so much that none of us may ever know about. Three years is too long for someone to carry on a vendetta like this–not even caring about the lives they are ruining.

  3. I would like to thank Dr. Bean and all of his people for such accurate and professional reporting on this case. We know this is not the end of the battle for the Richardson brothers but it is good to see corruption defeated. Their names have been cleared of the charges and the slate soon wiped clean. Now it is time to make the corrupt people in RRC pay the price. Hit’m hard !!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Will there be a push for charges against the Judge, the DA and all those involved in this mess? I see that this part of the case is over, but it is a long way from finished.

    Comparing this case with other cases that are known about, it seems like this was pure racism. This should have never happened as you spoke of Dr. Bean in the article. It should have never even got started.

    This case does remind us of Tulia, Texas in many ways.

  5. It is not over. The corruption here is not just about this case or the Leshers case. Those are the two cases which brought it all to light. “Red River County Justice On Trial” was a perfect name for that article. All cases of that Judge Miller and the DA need to be reviewed and that is a fact.

    The charges against the Richardson Brothers have been dismissed which is a great accomplishment and the FOJ helped in that we believe. But their ordeal is not over yet. They still have to get their name cleared and get through the emotional trauma they have been through. That will take years more than likely.

  6. I also beleive that FOJ has been a lot of help in embarassing the corrupt officials in RRC. And like Refreshing says it is not over yet. All of the real truth and corruption which I think is ( the heart ) of both the Richardsons and the Lesher case is going to be the most interesting aspect of Dr. Beans story. By the time the Leshers and Richardsons get through with RRC and the corrupt LE officals they will be begging for mercy and none will be given. Now is not the time for FOJ to stop reporting on this. The interesting part is just beginning.

  7. Thanks to the Friends of Justice for all of their hard work in bringing the facts to light. This county has been corrupt for so long…… and County Attorney Val Varley and District Judge John Miller have been railroading defendants into prison and destroying innocent lives for many years without any oversight…….
    Hopefully this will bring meaningful and legitimate law enforcement and justice into this dark county and shed light on the Corruption that has been rampant for many years.

  8. Ernie–

    Good to hear from you. Even though you were treated badly for telling the truth on your site, you still remain for RR County being what it should be. You suffered greatly for exposing the truth for many years also and for that we are sorry. Officials had no mercy on those who tried to expose what they were doing. We miss you terribly, but wish for you happiness, joy and peace for the rest of your life.

  9. I never beleived for one second that vergil Richardson was involved in anything, and most of the people that know him including the DA in Red River county didn’t think so either. The DA told me so just days after he participated in the arrest. Vindication was long overdue, but justice will not be fully served untill Vergil and the Richardson Family is fully Compensated by all of those responsible which includes Law enforcement officials, Education Systems, Criminal Justice Officials, and private individuals. The systems usually designed to protect and serve all citizens were used to falsify , spread allegations, and tamper with evidence. Yes their were criminal acts committed but not by the Richardsons’ , by the Justice System and Law enforcement officials.

  10. Your post is good except most people know better than that about the DA. Wasn’t it the same DA who went before the Grand Jury–and wasn’t it the same Grand Jury who indicted the Leshers on those false charges? I have served on the Grand Jury and can tell you when the DA does not want a person indicted, they don’t get indicted.

    When he wants them indicted, they get indicted.

  11. It was a pleasure to meet and work with such wonderful people at Red River County and Friends of Justice. Dr. Bean definitely deserves all the credit, as he commanded the direction of the entire process. At the end, what matters is that justice was served, and I find joy in knowing we live in a system in which justice can triumph.

    Many blessings,
    Pierre~

  12. It is so sad that a human being has to go through this much drama to prove their innocents for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.And to think you have your home town district attorney at a raid how dumb can you get. Now his dumbness is going to cost the town a lot of money due to can’t see past the color of your skin. Always remember that there is a God and he only allow you to do so much and you will run out.

  13. Pingback: Slandered couple vindicated | Friends of Justice

  14. I went to school with Clyde Lee and have been looking for him for years. Does anyone know how I could contact him?

  15. Pingback: Red River Justice | Texas Observer

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