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Former Temple Police officer convicted of lying to FBI

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Erick French II

The former Temple officer was convicted of lying to the FBI on Wednesday. The Temple Daily Telegram successfully filed an open records request with the city of Temple to obtain this photo of French.

AUSTIN — A former Temple Police officer faces up to five years in federal prison after an Austin jury found him guilty on one count of making a false statement to federal investigators.

Erick French II, 24, of Copperas Cove, lied on March 21 to federal investigators and didn’t admit alerting someone through a text message about an ongoing investigation by the Temple Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas said.

French was found not guilty on a second false statement charge that said he gave false information about the matter when the FBI questioned him on March 16.

French, who was initially released on an unsecured bond, may also be fined up to $250,000, a news release said.

He will be sentenced on Jan. 20 before U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks.

Temple Police Chief Floyd Mitchell had no comment Wednesday because French was no longer employed by the city of Temple, Officer Shawana Neely, department spokeswoman, said in an email.

French was arrested Sept. 8 after federal grand jury indictments were unsealed. He pleaded not guilty to the charges after waving his arraignment.

He was a Temple Police officer from Jan. 10, 2014, to July 29, 2016, when Mitchell placed him on indefinite suspension after an agent assigned to a federal task force on March 11 discovered the possible compromise. An FBI agent on the task force was then notified.

The FBI told Mitchell it would conduct the criminal investigation, but Mitchell authorized an internal affairs investigation during which French was put on investigatory leave.

The investigation discovered allegations of conduct that violated the city of Temple and Temple Police Department policies and procedures, rules and regulations of the Temple Firefighters’ and Police Officers’ Civil Service Commission.

Prosecuting the case are Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Guess and Matt Harding.

Other Temple officers still under investigation

Three Temple Police officers are currently under investigation, but not in connection with the French case.

The department has repeatedly refused to release the identities of those officers.

Two officers have been under investigation since June 7 related to their handling of a felony case, but that information wasn’t revealed by the city of Temple until Oct. 14 when the Telegram followed up on a tip.

Mitchell involuntarily transferred the two members out of the General Investigations Unit and put one of the officers on paid investigative leave the following day. The second officer was put on leave on Sept. 7 after more information was discovered, Neely said.

One other officer is under investigation for possibly using excessive force during the Aug. 10 arrest of Larry Wayne Parker after a vehicle pursuit. All that is known about that officer is that he is a 15-year veteran of the Temple Police Department who is still on active duty.

The investigation into the active duty officer was expected to be completed sometime this week, Mitchell said on Oct. 14.