Trials

Ex-Dallas chief investigator gets light sentence despite taking big bribe

Malia Zimmerman

While escorting a man from Las Vegas to Dallas to face a criminal charge, a chief investigator from the Dallas County prosecutor’s office “solicited, demanded, and accepted” from the man a bribe in return for agreeing to help get a charge against the man of failing to register as a sex offender dismissed.

The chief investigator, Anthony Robinson, pled guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to bribe or reward an agent of an organization receiving federal funds.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade sentenced Robinson to just three years of probation, a $10,000 fine and $31,000 in restitution after he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.

The 53-year old resident of Mesquite, Texas, admitted that in 2012 he took $200,000 as a business investment from Wayne Sweeney in return for getting the charge against Sweeney dismissed. That charge was later dismissed.  

Robinson could have served up to five years in prison, be fined $250,000 and ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution.

“Although what he did was incomprehensible, we’ve tried to make amends,” Robinson’s attorney, Kirk Lechtenberger, told the judge, according to the Dallas Observer.

Robinson may have received a lighter sentence because he will testify in another government criminal case that may have begun during Dallas District Attorney Craig Marcus Watkins’ tenure, the Dallas Observer reported.

“Robinson's lenient sentence may indicate that he's agreed to be a witness in a larger investigation into the district attorney's office during Watkins' tenure, which was sparked by charges against Robinson. Federal agents recently served two subpoenas to the Dallas County District Attorney's office – one just before Watkins left the office at the end of 2014 and one just after his successor, Susan Hawk, took over the post the next year,” the Dallas Observer reported.

Robinson’s case files, which were on the U.S. District Court system database called PACER, were sealed as of Wednesday, meaning they are no longer available to the public. Neither the attorney for Robinson, nor the U.S. Attorney’s office in North Texas, returned calls to Fox News.

Federal court records initially available to the public show that on Sept. 13, 2012, Robinson took custody of Sweeney and returned him to Dallas County to face a criminal charge. During this time, Robinson told Sweeney he planned to enter the cattle business. Sweeney told Robinson he could provide the funds for the business if Robinson got his criminal charges dismissed.  Robinson drafted a proposal seven months later, which both men signed, whereby Sweeney invested $200,000 and Robinson handled daily operations, and they shared a checking account. Robinson took $5,000 from that bank account for his wife, and personal withdraws totaling $51,708, court records show.

Two months later, in May 2013, court records show Robinson used his position to persuade an assistant district attorney to dismiss the criminal charge.

Sweeney is serving a 108-month federal prison sentence for participating in a synthetic marijuana distribution organization, federal court records show. In 2014, Sweeney sought to reduce his prison sentence under the 2014 retroactive amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which reduced base offense levels for many drug offenses, but his petition was denied on April 27, 2017, by a senior U.S. District Court judge.

Malia Zimmerman is an award-winning investigative reporter focusing on crime, homeland security, illegal immigration crime, terrorism and political corruption. Follow her on twitter at @MaliaMZimmerman