Former Temple Police officer pleads not guilty to federal charges

Erick French II, the former Temple Police officer arrested and charged by the FBI with making false statements, waived his arraignment and pleaded not guilty to federal charges.

Daryl Fields, the Department of Justice spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Texas, said Tuesday that French waived the arraignment on Sept. 14.

The arraignment was originally scheduled Monday in Austin before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin.

No trial date has been set and French remained free on a $25,000 bond after appearing in a Waco federal courtroom before U.S. Judge Jeffrey Janske, Fields said.

However, Austin’s court clerk, Cheng Ka, said Tuesday that French was actually free on an unsecured bond, which means he doesn’t have to pay any money unless he flees.

No photo of French was provided Tuesday by the Temple Police Department, even though he is no longer employed there.

Temple Police Officer Shawana Neely, department spokeswoman, said that French’s photo was an official document and had to go through City Secretary Lacy Borgeson.

The Telegram received an email Tuesday from Temple Public Records Administrator Sonia Alexander, who said the Telegram’s request was received and “will be processed accordingly.”

When asked if the request was going through the open records process and being sent to the Attorney General’s office for an opinion, Alexander responded in a second email by saying, “This request will be going through the open records process once we get the responsive material from (the) PD.”

French, 24, of Copperas Cove, was indicted on two counts of making false statements to federal investigators, and the indictments were recently unsealed. He allegedly gave the FBI false information on March 16 and March 21 by hiding the fact he previously sent a text message to alert someone to an ongoing investigation by the Temple Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit.

An agent with the Special Investigation Unit assigned to a federal task force on March 11 discovered the potential compromise of information and immediately notified an FBI agent on the task force, a Temple Police Department news release previously said. The FBI told the department it would conduct the criminal investigation into French’s actions.

The Temple Police Department, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation that led to the indictment.

Neely said the department couldn’t comment on the ongoing criminal investigation or any pending criminal cases when asked if French’s actions compromised the department’s March investigation.

French was hired by the Temple Police Department on Jan. 10, 2014. He was indefinitely suspended on July 29 by Temple Police Chief Floyd Mitchell after an internal affairs investigation found allegations of conduct that violated the city of Temple and Temple Police Department policies and procedures and rules and regulations of the Temple Firefighters’ and Police Officers’ Civil Service Commission.

If convicted of each false statement charge, French will face up to five years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.