The Watchdog’s best tip in 2018 came from legendary Dallas lawman Jim Leavelle, now 98 years old. Jim was handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when Oswald was shot.
“If you get a chance, call me,” he said. “No big deal, OK?”
It was a big deal.
Jim tipped me about how the widow of Dallas police Officer J.D. Tippit, who was killed by Oswald before his capture, wanted to be buried beside her husband. But the cemetery wasn’t allowing it.
The Watchdog helped fix that.
That’s why Jim, a Garland resident, is hereby named captain of The Watchdog’s 2018 All-Star team of tipsters.
Who else is on the team?
- Chris Torraca, of Grapevine, helped me expose the identity theft flaws in the U.S. Postal Service’s new “Informed Delivery” program. USPS sends an email each morning showing photos of what will arrive in that day’s mail. A crook, pretending to be Chris, hijacked Chris’ email address and used the information to steal Chris’ identity. After Chris shared his story with me, the story received national attention.
- Dawn Nettles, of Garland, runs lottoreport.com, which reports lottery information and also raises lots of questions. Dawn tipped me to the strange $1 billion Willy Wonka Golden Ticket lottery game. As I reported exclusively, only one person in the entire U.S. had a chance to win a billion. Nobody won. The game, offered in 16 states, was a deceptive farce.
- Sherrie Wilson, of Dallas, tipped me off that the American recycling market was crashing this year because of China’s refusal to accept much of our recycling. Turns out, we’re pretty poor recyclers. We don’t clean our items, and we throw in waste that doesn’t belong. Thanks to Sherrie, The Watchdog was able to beat many publications on this story.
- Brian Bickel, of Franklin, Tennessee, helped me nail a big story that everyone, including state officials, should have jumped on. The decades-old Texas ban on surcharges for people who pay with credit cards was overturned by a federal judge. Brian, vice president at Unified Commerce Solutions, pointed me in the right direction.
- Michael Webb, leader of the North Texas Ethics Association, was, perhaps, an unintentional tipster. He invited me to his organization’s annual luncheon to watch AT&T get an ethics award. Hours later, AT&T was embarrassed when when the story broke that AT&T paid President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, $200,000 to buy access. The Washington Post later reported the contract was for $600,000.
- Marilyn Levin, of North Dallas, told me that Garage Door Services was up to its old tricks. She paid $2,100 for a job that should have cost $100 or so. She fought the company and got her money back.
- Beth Borman, of Dallas, tipped The Watchdog about a phone call she received before the November election that turned out to be a “push poll” pretending to be a survey. The call was actually an attempt to smear certain candidates under the guise of a poll.
- Bob Scott, of Highland Park, got a phone solicitation call from the Women’s Cancer Fund. He decided to research the charity and learned that most of the money raised went to pay for phone solicitors.
- Robin Allison, of Fairview, bought gift cards at Walmart and noticed she was charged sales tax. No can do. Thanks to Robin, I took a look at all items that are tax-free. Who knew that car washes, dietary supplements and so much more are exempt? Not me.
- Tom Waddington, of Atlanta, informed me Google created a new service that filters out bad companies and services from search results and promotes honest companies. Roofers, locksmiths, plumbers, air conditioning techs and many others are affected. Google awards what it calls the “Badge of Trust” to companies that pass its background checks.
- Elin Jacks, of Arlington, showed me a fake letter that pretended to come from Publishers Clearing House’s Prize Patrol. The fake came with a check to cover expenses, but PCH doesn’t do that.
- Alan Ash, of Carrollton, is a Vietnam War vet. He complained to me about a flyer he received that promises free burials at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. Only thing is, you don’t need this intermediary company to get involved.
Finally, thanks for all the Texans who wrote to me about their horror stories dealing with deceptive electricity companies. Hundreds of you. It helps in our continuing battle with state officials, including the Public Utility Commission and lawmakers, who don’t see the problems that the rest of us do.
Thank you to all my tipsters. If you come across a story idea, send it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to keep your identify a secret, you can. Players on my All-Star team gave permission to use their names and images, but that’s not necessary.