Dead Man Talking

Ben Guillory helped the DEA bust some east Houston dope dealers. But he says the agency's cavalier approach has left him a marked man in his old neighborhood.

DeGuerin suggested to Guillory that he find someone to do a story on him because, he says, "I've always been of the opinion that a high profile is the best protection you have against retaliation. I've always been of the opinion that if you're being blackmailed, the best thing to do is take out an ad about whatever you're afraid of being exposed so they can't expose it. I think the best protection is his being public about it. Then, if anything does happen to him, it will be pretty easy to find out who did it. And whoever might want to do something might be more reluctant to do so because his story is well known.

"That includes not the just the persons he may have informed against," says DeGuerin, "but the DEA. They are the ones from whom I'd expect the real retaliation."

During a recent telephone conversation taped by Guillory, with someone who identifies himself as DEA agent Tony Scott, Guillory expressed a similar concern. During the call, apparently made by Scott in response to a complaint filed by Guillory with the local DEA, the voice purporting to be Scott asks the informant to come to the agency's headquarters to get to the bottom of the matter. The result is a circular discussion nearly 20 minutes long during which Guillory repeatedly objects to the idea of agent Brockman attending the meeting:

Guillory to the DEA: "I will be there, but I am truly afraid of Mr. Brockman."
Joe Forkan
Guillory to the DEA: "I will be there, but I am truly afraid of Mr. Brockman."

Scott: Sir, we are going to try and get to the bottom of it. So if you come down here, you can be interviewed, and we can continue on and do what we have to do.

Guillory: I will be there, but I am truly afraid of Mr. Brockman.

Scott: There is no reason to be afraid of Mr. Brockman.

Guillory: Mr. Brockman is the one who put my life in danger. And he's going to set it up where there will be some type of accident.

Scott: Sir, nobody's going to set up anything where there's going to be any type of accident. And most of all Mr. Brockman. Okay? Please come in so we can get this set up. That's all I'm going to tell you. You don't have to fear Mr. Brockman. He's not going to do anything to put your life in danger.

Guillory: He already has. He's the one who has put my life in danger as it is now. My life is in danger at this time. And it is because of Brockman.

Scott: Sir, if you come in here and speak to us, that's that.

Guillory: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Scott: Okay?

Guillory: So y'all are giving me up.

Scott: Did I say we were giving you up, sir? Nobody's giving you up. I'm telling you to come in here so you can be interviewed about these threats you feel have been made against your life.

Guillory: It's not that I feel they have been made.

Scott: That's what you're going to be interviewed regarding. So we can go through some follow-up on whoever you said made the threats. We do our follow-up investigation. Okay? And we can do what we have to do to make sure the threats are gone against your life.

Guillory: Well, I guess I might as well go ahead and write a last will and testament. With Brian Brockman there, I'm as good as dead.

Despite Guillory's foreboding, he did show up for the meeting. In a windowless, subterranean interrogation room with a concrete floor, in the bowels of the building's parking garage, Guillory says, a female agent and Brockman asked him questions from a prepared list for about an hour. The only interruption, he says, came when a supervising officer walked into the room and ordered the female agent to destroy the tape recording that Guillory was making of the meeting. Afterward, the informant felt more vulnerable than ever. The man who introduced Guillory to some of the people he set up feels no sympathy for the snitch.

"The reason he's stabbing his friends in the back is because he's lazy," says the acquaintance and intermediary who asked not to be identified. "He doesn't want to work, so he's trying to get money out of the DEA. He uses people, and he lies."

Asked about Guillory's fear that his life is in danger, the friend would say only, "If that's what he thinks. Who knows what's going to happen?"

Over Easter weekend, Ben Guillory's plight did not get any better. On the Thursday before Easter, he drove to Louisiana to visit his ailing mother. She died on Good Friday. When Guillory returned to Houston to get a suit to wear to the funeral, he discovered that he had been evicted from the house that he had shared with Helen Hum.

Earlier in the week, Hum had gone to family court and won a restraining order against him. During a break in the hearings, Hum had little to say about Guillory except to suggest that "Benny's problem is he always thinks he's right."

Attorney Deborah Lozano, who took pity on Guillory and is representing him pro bono, says her client eventually may be able to stake a partial claim to the house, and perhaps some money from its sale, if the lawyer can prove that Guillory and Hum had a common-law marriage. But for now Guillory is homeless, and that means he's exposed.

"If I end up dead, it's going to prove that the DEA allowed this to happen," says Guillory.

Of course, some people might say he has it coming.

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