WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EVENT #23-9528, FRAUD (STOLEN VALOR)
This past week, Jason Followell solicited information from a man, William Watkins, about a perceived poor experience with our animal care services (ACO) division. Watkins was encouraged to participate in Followell’s egregiously false video. Soon after, many spoke out on the matter. We released information in response to the allegations and began looking into your findings, AP, and the concerns you expressed. Here is what we learned. We cannot share everything as the criminal investigation continues.
For starters, Watkins used a pseudo-identity, likely to protect past run-ins with law enforcement. He was charged with possession of child pornography and rape, which he does not deny. Our findings into these allegations reveal the pornography charges were dropped. However, I cannot speak to any convictions related to anything else because Louisiana is a “closed records” state. My detectives continue to seek whether or not there are remaining responsibilities that apply here in Texas for what we have discovered. Finally, and more importantly, are the allegations that the Police Department’s response disparaged a military veteran.
Followell says that my response to his video cost a veteran his job and caused him hardship. So Followell shared a CashApp account and encouraged others to help Watkins. He even contributed the first $100.
No, Mr. Followell, you and your self-aggrandizing efforts did! Unfortunately, they also cost us to lose two honorable employees who simply can’t continue to endure your bullying and hate-filled false attacks against good City staff! But the question remains – who is Watkins, who calls himself Leger, and is he a veteran? No! He is not.
Aside from confirming through military criminal intelligence and the NCIS that Watkins/Leger holds “no DOD affiliation,” I also spoke with John Tiegan (update from Tig: 17 mins, 13 secs. in), the one Followell claims will soon be hosting a podcast with Watkins/Leger over this matter. However, he, too, has been unable to confirm a military record. Unbeknownst to Followell, and likely an inconvenient truth as with most facts that don’t fit his narrative, the man turns out not to be who he says he is. In fact, and best of all, Watkins/Leger admitted he never served in the military after first trying to sell us his imaginary made-up service history. Again, Watkins/Leger admitted to lying about ever serving.
When will you learn to do better, Mr. Followell? Your efforts are divisive and damaging, not only to our community but to those few on your side looking up to you. Do better!
APPD has demonstrated previously and continues to do so regularly today its unyielding support for our military. Additionally, we will continue investigating and defending the honor of our service men and women and going after those who work to defraud them or defame their true and honorable military service, especially when claiming valor not earned.
APPD continues to investigate stolen valor, possible wire fraud, and other State law violations associated with this event. Criminal charges are likely to follow against any and all those involved with spreading this fraud to anyone who might have contributed monetarily.
If you, or someone you know, contributed funds via the CashApp link provided or paid anyone directly, you’re asked to contact the Aransas Pass PD at 361-758-5224 or share your information anonymously via Tri-County Crimestoppers. By law, Crimestoppers protects your anonymity because many may be concerned about speaking out publicly, especially on such a matter as this one.