Houston, TX – A retired Houston police officer is speaking out against Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, after her lenient prosecution allowed the leader of a notorious organized crime ring to walk free time and time again.
In December, career criminal Shamark Shields – who also uses a wide array of aliases – was arrested for yet another count of burglary, KTRK reported.
He is currently on probation for a prior burglary, but has a criminal history dating back at least 14 years.
“This man has at least 10 prior convictions from theft, to burglary, to terrorist threat, to aggravated robbery,” retired Houston Police Officer Mark Stephens told Blue Lives Matter.
"It's really frustrating when you know that this is what he does, this is what he brags about doing. The foreseeability is there, we know it's going to happen again, and he keeps getting out," Stephens said, according to KTRK.
Although investigators found Shields in possession of $45,000 worth of stolen ovens, refrigerators, and other home appliances, Stephens complained to Blue Lives Matter that Ogg hadn’t asked for a high enough bond.
KTRK reported that the district attorney’s office asked the judge for a $150,000 bond.
But then Magistrate Judge Colin Amann lowered it even further to $45,000, Stephens said.
“Despite his status as a career habitual offender… It took only $4,500 for this man, who stole over $1 million in property, time and time again, to walk out of jail,” he explained. “He is free again and no doubt moving the stolen appliances they have yet to recover.”
According to KTRK, the latest investigation into Shields and his crew began after the Houston Police Department’s (HPD) Southwest Crimes Suppression Team received a tip that a white-paneled van was possibly involved in a rash of residential burglaries in the Heights area.
Investigators followed the van to a residence in the neighborhood, then checked the home after the van left.
They found that a high-end Thermador oven – worth an estimated $10,000 – had been stolen.
The team continued surveilling the van and a Chevrolet Impala involved in the crime ring, and ultimately arrested both drivers.
They recovered a multitude of stolen stoves, ovens, and refrigerators worth tens of thousands of dollars, KTRK reported.
One of the men they arrested was Shields.
Stephens has been following Shields’ criminal career for many years.
A “highly decorated veteran” of the HPD, Stephens retired after 16 years of service, and was a private investigator when he first began looking into the organized crime ring case long ago, according to his website.
The ring included two burglars, who broke into newly constructed homes to steal appliances, and a “fence,” who bought the burglars’ stolen appliances for pennies on the dollar to re-sell later, Stephens explained in a Facebook post back in February of 2018.
Shields was one of those burglars, Stephens explained to Blue Lives Matter on Wednesday.
“For perspective, we are talking about one of the most prolific organized crime rings targeting home builders and new home appliances probably in Harris County history, in my opinion,” he said. “I’m talking about hundreds if not thousands of burglaries and thefts that stretched all across Harris County and beyond.”
After an intricate and thorough investigation, Stephens presented his findings to Ogg’s office.
The fence was initially charged with a single count of felony theft, and no charges were ever filed against the two burglars, Stephens said.
He explained that, months later, “prosecutors suddenly determined the Fence was somehow a ‘legitimate businessman’ who didn’t know or understand that buying $1500 refrigerators for $200… in the middle of the night… at a sketchy storage facility… from men he knew to be burglars… meant he could possibly be buying stolen appliances.”
“After indicting him for Felony Theft, it was now their contention that he was somehow ‘unaware’ that he was buying and selling hundreds of stolen appliances,” Stephens said.
Stephens said he asked prosecutors to explain their reasoning.
“I asked what on earth caused them to believe he was a ‘legitimate businessman,’” he wrote. “Are you ready for this? They believed him to be a ‘legitimate businessman’ because… he produced… a business card with his name on it.”
“That’s it. That’s all. Nothing else,” Stephens continued. “So, they dropped the charges on the fence altogether. He walked away free as a bird.”
Ogg’s justification for the lack of charges was far less detailed.
"In that case, the prosecutor felt the private investigator who was pushing the case unfortunately hadn't gotten evidence to their satisfaction," she told KTRK at the time.
It was an allegation that Stephens wasn’t about to let slip quietly by.
“In an attempt to defend herself and her office from failing to take action against these criminals, Ms. Ogg placed the blame squarely on me by stating that I ‘pushed’ a case on the DA’s office and offered ‘no evidence’ or ‘not enough evidence,’” Stephens blasted in his 2018 post.
“While it’s not unusual for a politician to look into a news camera and tell a lie or a factually incorrect statement... I feel compelled to respond in order to set the record straight,” he said.
Stephens went on to outline the mountain of evidence he had forwarded to prosecutors, which included photographs of burglaries as they were being committed, a videotaped undercover purchase from the fence, and documentation regarding the suspects’ relationships with one another.
He even provided documentation that tracked an appliance from the manufacturer, through the time it was sold to Stephens by the fence, he said.
“Additionally, I provided a checklist to the DA’s office of things they needed to do to shore up or strengthen the case. This checklist of ‘to do’ items involved activity beyond my capability since I don’t have subpoena power,” he wrote. “To the best of my knowledge, none of my ‘to do’ list was ever completed by the DAs office.”
“Ms. Ogg's insistence that I did not bring enough evidence was not only erroneous, it was seemingly designed to wash over her own failure to pursue the additional evidence I suggested and requested,” Stephens concluded.
Shields and a second burglar were ultimately charged in a neighboring jurisdiction, after Stephens notified authorities that the suspects would likely be coming to their area next.
He was correct.
“This arrest came months after I notified the DA's office that they were the burglars in my Organized Crime ring and that they were still committing burglaries on a regular basis,” Stephens noted.
The burglars, including Shields, were sentenced to probation, Stephens said.
“In addition to NOT charging the Burglars in any of my cases... and giving them Probation - Deferred Adjudication - the DA’s office made no effort to recover the additional stolen appliances,” Stephens explained. “So, not only did the Burglars get to stay out of jail... they got to KEEP the rest of the stolen appliances as a ‘bonus.’”
Either while Shields’ case was pending or sometime after Ogg offered him the probation sentence, the district attorney and Shields became Facebook friends, Stephens told Blue Lives Matter.
Stephens found the connection to be even more concerning when, after Ogg turned him loose onto probation, Shields allegedly began making Facebook posts eluding to his next criminal endeavor.
“After he received probation and was released to steal again, the crook bragged on Facebook that he was getting his ‘old crew’ back together, clearly indicating he was going to start committing burglaries again,” Stephens told Blue Lives Matter.
Although Ogg did nothing about Shields’ posts, Stephens began letting investigators in his network know that the organized crime ring was back in action.
“During the past two years, not a month has gone by without some law enforcement agency from [Houston] to Dallas calling me about this crime ring, because they were all losing appliances during burglaries,” Stephens explained.
“Hundreds of appliances. Hundreds of burglaries,” he reiterated.
Consequently, when Shields was arrested on his most recent burglary charge, Stephens hoped the district attorney’s office would finally take the matter seriously.
Instead, prosecutors asked for a laughable-sized bond, he said.
“[Shields] owns a new Mercedes, a new BMW, an Infinity SUV and a new Maserati sports car,” Stephens told Blue Lives Matter. “[The organized crime ring] has prospered… and despite being flush with cash, flashing handfuls on his social media pages, YOU the taxpayer are stuck with paying bills for his defense.”
Stephens said that criminal justice is not a “difficult concept,” but that Ogg has it “backward.”
“This ‘criminal justice reform’ she talks is all about protecting the criminals, to the detriment of innocent citizens and crime victims,” he railed. “Kim Ogg and the DA’s office empowered this criminal enterprise by releasing them with no jail time, knowing they would continue to victimize innocent citizens.”
“She could have stopped it,” Stephens said of Shields’ most recent string of burglaries. “There is a fine line between prosecutorial discretion and corruption. And Kim Ogg dances on that line like it doesn’t matter upon which side she falls.”
“She honestly needs to figure out whether she is a prosecutor or a defense attorney,” he added.
“If she wants to protect criminals, so be it,” the seasoned investigator concluded. “All she has to do is step down from the DA’s office and stop pretending to be a prosecutor.”
Blue Lives Matter reached out to Ogg for her response to Stephens’ allegations, but she did not respond.