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‘I Knew He Was Crooked’: DA Found Disgraced Houston Officer Lied to Secure Conviction That Led to a 25-Year Sentence for Homeless Black Man Who ‘Couldn’t Afford a Piece of Bubble Gum’

A Texas man is now free after spending almost six years behind bars based on the untruthful testimony of a crooked cop. The then-respected officer lied when he said the homeless man owned a cellphone connected to an important drug bust, an assertion that led to the man being convicted on drug charges and sentenced to almost three decades in prison.

Frederick Jeffery (Left), Disgraced officer Gerald Goines (Right)

On Friday, July 22, Frederick Jeffery walked out of prison as a free man, after the previous day an investigation determined disgraced ex-Houston police officer Gerald Goines fabricated a story that placed Jeffrey, then a homeless Black man with a lengthy drug addiction history, in the middle of a case he was working on, KHOU 11 reports.

The officer used a broken phone he found in a house he busted as evidence to further connect the man to the crime. He said Jeffery owned it, but his mother continued to scoff at his suggestion, “Fred was homeless. He couldn’t afford a piece of bubble gum.”

Because of the officer’s dishonesty and the faulty evidence, Jeffery was arrested and convicted in 2018 for possessing five grams of methamphetamine. Despite the small amount, the judge sentenced him to 25 years in prison because of his prior convictions.

Harris County Judge Stacy M. Allen recommended the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reverse Jeffery’s conviction. She said her findings stated the conviction was built on “a pattern of deceit involving fictional drug buys, perjured search warrant affidavits, and false testimony to a jury.” 

The recently exonerated and freed man should have never been in jail in the first place his mother, Tina Baldwin, told ABC 13.

In addition to being an addict, Jeffery had a record, making him a prime suspect. 

Baldwin said her son’s social status made him a throwaway in the eyes of the law and allowed those in control of his fate to trust a bad cop’s word over his. 

She said, “He was homeless. He never owned a house, none. He never had no money. They only went by Goines’ words and his background. That’s how Fred got the time he got.”

Jeffery always maintained his innocence, telling the local station, “I knew he was crooked. You can’t be an officer of the law and be crooked. You have to be an officer of the law for the people.”

Goines’ evidence was sketchy, reports say, and Jeffery was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Jeffery was at a drug house when Goines busted it — making it an easy reach for the narcotics officer, who has since been kicked off the force in May of 2020 for other unscrupulous police practices.

In 2020, Jeffery reached out to the District clerk while he was in prison and asked him to check in on his appeal, considering the new information about Goines and over 50 other botched cases.

He wrote, “I see on TV that 69 people have got they (sic) case [thrown] out from HPD Officer Gerald Goines. I am trying to find out what’s going on in my case. Can you help me?”

This was to no avail.

In March of this year, he tried again, this time reaching out to the judge who oversaw his case. He wrote to the court, “I have been incarcerated for 5 years and 5 months. Fighting for my freedom for a crime I didn’t commit.”

This tome it did not take long for the district attorney to review his case and determine that he was wrongly incarcerated.

Jeffery, with zero real evidence linking him to the case, is the 70th person thought to have been incarcerated on the basis of trumped-up charges from Goines.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said, “Frederick Jeffery’s case is a due process disaster. In the wake of Harding Street, it is clear that Gerald Goines and other members of the Houston Police Department Narcotics Division engaged in a years-long scheme involving fictional drug buys perjured warrants, and phony overtime. Individuals like Frederick Jeffery were collateral damage,” the Houston Chronicle reported.

Goines’ misconduct has been going on for years, authorities learned — stretching back to 2016 when he lied to get a search warrant affidavit, swearing that “a confidential informant had bought marijuana two days earlier from ‘a Black male’ who was about 30 years old and ‘known by the street name of ‘B’’ inside a house at 2807 Nettleton Street.” 

Ironically, Jeffery’s case is connected to this one, according to Allen. She said Jeffery’s incarceration, starting with his arrest, “would not have occurred but for the perjured search warrant affidavit and resulting warrant” for the house at 2807 Nettleton Street.

When Goines and Sgt. Brent Batts came to the house two days later to serve that warrant, Goines testified, he saw Jeffery on the front porch with another man named Orville Jackson. Goines said Jeffery was securing the burglar bars covering the front door and that he had found the keys to unlock the bars. 

Goines alleged those keys were thrown on the front lawn. He also said Jackson “tossed a bag of crack cocaine onto the grass.” He would arrest the man for possession of that drug. 

Upon entering the house, the officers said they found a bag of meth pills that he linked to Jeffery. As he was arresting the homeless man, Goines said the homeless man asked for his cellphone, which allegedly was on the table with the drugs. That’s where Goines found the mobile and thus linked it to his suspect and possession of the narcotics.

Jeffery has maintained all along this conversation didn’t happen. Allen now believes him, writing, “the conversation was not recorded, and no other officers heard it.”

To make matters worse, Goines never wrote about this in his report and only remembered this part of his story 18 months later during the trial. His word was all the prosecution had, a police report stated, since neither officer activated their bodycams “until transporting the suspects to the jail.” 

Goines was “the only witness who can connect [Jeffery] to the drugs that were found inside the house,” Allen said before continuing, “charging the applicant and not Jackson with possession of the drugs inside the house is solely based on Goines’ testimony.”

Jackson also suggested in his testimony the phone was Jeffery’s.

Last May of 2022, the district attorney’s office hired an investigator to examine the cellphone in question. 

The judge revealed, the expert “determined that the cell phone number was 832-988-3406,” and another report showed “that a woman named Bridgette Black claimed her phone number was 832-988-3406 on May 13, 2016 (months before [Jeffery’s] arrest) and on November 7, 2016 (less than two weeks after [Jeffery’s] arrest).” 

“There is no mention of [Jeffery] or a connection between Ms. Black and [Jeffery].”

Goines made this up like he did other stories, officials determined.

Goines, also a Black man, is the same cop that arrested George Floyd when he lived in the city on a minor drug charge, and had over 14,000 thousand cases connected to his team dating back to at least 2008 under review (with more than 160 under consideration to be overturned) in 2021.

He also was found guilty that same year of federal charges connected to the now-infamous Harding Street drug raid that led to the deaths of a couple killed during the execution of a no-knock warrant Goines lied to obtain. No drugs were found in the home. Those charges included felony murder and violating the victims’ Fourth Amendment rights.

Because of how deceitful Goines has been proved to be, officials considered posthumously pardoning Floyd for a crime where he was convicted for selling $10 worth of crack and received a month in jail for each dollar. That recommendation in this case was rescinded in December 2021.

Baldwin was one of the first persons Jeffery told he was coming home. He shared with her that for the first few months, he will have to wear an ankle monitor until his paperwork is cleared through the bureaucracy of the legal system.

That’s a small thing. He is just happy to be home.

After walking out of jail, freed on bond, he said, “It feel good because I knew from the get-go I was innocent.”

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