Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Former probation officer charged with bribery in baby buying allegations

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A former Wichita County probation officer is facing a felony bribery charge in connection with allegations that she bought a newborn baby from a woman on probation.

Lakashia Nicole McKnight, 39, of Wichita Falls was charged and released Thursday from Wichita County Jail, according to online jail records.

She is free from jail on a $25,000 bond for the bribery charge and $32,500 on three other charges, online jail records showed.

A Wichita County grand jury returned a sealed indictment against McKnight on Wednesday, according to officials.

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The baby girl, who is about 14 months old, has been allowed to stay with McKnight since Judge Jim Hogan’s October ruling to modify her bond conditions in 78th District Court, according to court records.

Hogan is a retired judge but was presiding over the 78th DC before the appointment of Judge Meredith Kennedy.

The conditions had previously required her to stay 1,000 feet away from the child McKnight adopted from a woman whose probation she supervised, according to court documents. She is still required to wear a GPS ankle monitor.

McKnight is also charged with purchase of a child in connection with an incident Oct. 9, 2018. The third-degree felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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In addition, she was charged in late June with fabricating physical evidence, a felony, and with official oppression, a misdemeanor, in connection with a March 6, 2018, incident, according to court records.

McKnight is accused of pressuring Brenda Lee Velasquez, 42, whose probation she oversaw, to allow the adoption of her child or get thrown in jail for alleged probation violations, according to court documents.

In McKnight’s efforts to get the baby, she also pressured Velasquez to sign adoption papers, slipped her $100 in cash to catch up on her probation payments and gave her furniture for an apartment, according to a Texas ranger’s complaint on the charge of purchasing a child.

Velasquez was sentenced to 10 years of probation after pleading guilty to a felony drug offense March 16, 2015, according to court records.

During an Oct. 11 hearing, a Texas ranger testified about his investigation uncovering that McKnight had tried to obtain a child from other women on probation.

Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie had discovered the baby’s adoption and allegations surrounding it while observing Velasquez’s May 17 probation revocation hearing.

Gillespie stopped the revocation hearing and asked Texas rangers to investigate the Wichita County Adult Probation Department.

The investigation has led to felony and misdemeanor charges against three other former employees.

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