DALLAS (CN) – An heir to the Hunt oil fortune sued former Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins on Tuesday, claiming he used his office’s investigators as an “armed goon squad to solve a burgeoning legal and political problem.”
Albert G. Hill III says Watkins had him indicted in March 2011 on “bogus charges” of mortgage fraud after being bribed by Hill’s family members and others to frame him and to “ensure his defeat in various civil lawsuits in state and federal court.”
“But that scheme was beginning to unravel and Mr. Watkins was desperate to cover his tracks,” the 10-page complaint, filed in Dallas Federal Court, continues.
Hill is the great-grandson of Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt. He sued several of his relatives in county court in 2007 for fraud, claiming he received no benefits from trusts Hunt set up for his children.
“Mr. and Mrs. Hill moved to Atlanta to get away from the harassment and political corruption in Dallas, but the reign of terror continues to this day, so Mr. Hill has filed this case to put an end to it,” Tuesday’s complaint states.
Hill says the criminal case against him was “falling apart” and alleges Watkins sent investigators to his Highland Park home in February 2013 “in a desperate (but unsuccessful) attempt to gain leverage” before a hearing the next month.
According to the complaint, “The local police did not intervene because the investigators said they entered the home pursuant to a search warrant, but in reality the investigators had no search warrant. Instead, the investigators entered the home at the personal direction of then-District Attorney Craig Watkins.”
Hill says all charges against him were dropped during the March 2013 hearing “because of egregious misconduct” by Watkins and his staff.
“Mr. Watkins’ former chief investigator [Anthony L. Robinson], meanwhile, was wiretapped by the FBI and pleaded guilty to accepting a $200,000 bribe in another case,” the complaint states.
At that hearing, the trial judge wanted Watkins to answer questions under oath about the alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Watkins took the stand but declined to answer questions, citing attorney-client and work-product privileges.
The state’s highest criminal appeals court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, ruled in Sept. 2016 that the trial judge did not abuse her authority when she forced Watkins to answer the questions under oath.
Now in private practice, Watkins did not immediately respond to an email message requesting comment Wednesday afternoon.
Along with Watkins, Hill sued the Albert Hill Trust and Branch Banking & Trust Company, as well as 17 others – including family members – he claims were involved in the misconduct.
Hill seeks actual and punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty and tortuous interference. He is represented by Ty Clevenger in New York.
One of Hunt’s 15 children, Lamar Hunt, helped found the American Football League and owned the Dallas Texans, which later became the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. He also helped found Major League Soccer and owned the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas.
A Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge spanning the Trinity River west of downtown Dallas is named after another of Hunt’s children, heiress and philanthropist Margaret Hunt Hill.