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Cuero paper uncovers land fraud


On this day in 1954, the Cuero Record published an article by its managing editor, Roland Kenneth Towery, revealing violations of the intent and purpose of the Veterans' Land Program through fraud and bribery. Towery's story, and those which followed, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1955 for distinguished reporting of local affairs. They also set off intensive statewide media reporting and accelerated an investigation begun in October by the office of the attorney general under John Ben Shepperd (who was a member of the Veterans' Land Board at the time of the investigation), the Texas Department of Public Safety under Homer Garrison, the state auditor's office, and the Senate General Investigating Committee. Governor Allan Shivers, as a member of the Veterans' Land Board, was also actively involved in the investigation. Once investigations were begun, numerous charges were filed against various people accused of taking part in the improper use of state monies and violating veterans' personal rights. Twenty people were indicted in nine counties, and Bascom Giles, commissioner of the General Land Office and chairman of the board of the Veterans' Land Board, became the first elected state official to enter prison for a crime committed while in office.

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