4 of 12: Convicted Criminal connected to TxDOT Freeway Tolling Scheme

Convicted criminal Amos "Pete" Peters, long known as a WilCo political strategist, is at the heart of the privatization and tolling of our freeways. Peters has helped elect most WilCo politicians, and they are known to return the favor by making sure he gets contracts.

Amos "Pete" Peters (02/07/1948) criminal record spans 20-years in Texas, it includes a dozen charges of check swindling, credit card abuse and criminal mischief. He's pleaded guilty or no contest to three felonies and three misdemeanors. He's been convicted of Larceny and DWI. Peters has been convicted of Fraud four different times.

At one point he was sent to prison for two years.

According to TxDOT District Engineer Bob Daigh's meeting calendar, convicted criminal Pete Peters has met with Bob Daigh a number of times in 2004, at times alone and other times with CTRMA toll Authority creator Mike Weaver of Prime Strategies, Inc., and Manuel Zarate of HBMG, Inc.

It is illegal for convicted criminals to lobby in the State of Texas.

A 2002 Statesman article “In Williamson, politics, roads and money mix” describes the conflicts of contractors and consultants. Pete Peters, Peters’ Roads Now PAC, Mike Weaver and others are the focus.

The article states:
“Peters' company earns about $4,000 a month from Williamson County's bond budget, mainly for work promoting the roads project.”
"WilCo Commissioners hired Weaver's company, Prime Strategies Inc., in 1998 to plan the bond package. In December 2000, after voters approved the proposal, the county put Weaver in charge of the project and let him hire a group of consultants, including Peters' company, to help him oversee it.”
In 2002, Mike Weaver helped to create the freeway tolling authority (CTRMA) and hired his own company, Prime Strategies, as the first Toll Authority contractor. Comptroller Strayhorn’s report shows Weaver's company billed the CTRMA for well over $600,000 from 2002 to 2005. Weaver's company was paid with tax dollars for the NO BID contract he gave himself.

Also from the Comptrollers report:
“CTRMA’s first contractor was Prime Strategies, Inc., an Austin transportation consulting firm led by its principal, Mike Weaver. Prime Strategies is also Williamson County’s road bond manager for its multi-corridor transportation plan, which will build roads using $350 million in bonds approved by voters in 2000.
The Comptrollers report also lists Pete Peters as “Primary Staff” for HBMG inc. According to the investigation, HBMG Inc’s NO BID contract with the CTRMA added up to well over $259,000 within just a matter of months.

Also from the Comptrollers report:
“Interestingly, Peters was considered so close to Williamson County officials that the state Attorney General’s Office joined a recent investigation of him. According to one report, “Peters has handled campaign work for almost every major office holder in the county.” The investigation focused on several meetings related to the Williamson County Road Bonds Program for which Williamson County paid Peters; some persons who were supposed to be at these meetings allege that they never took place."
In contrast, the Comptroller’s office requires that each proposer or bidder for a contract with the agency sign a “No Criminal Conviction” certification. The Comptroller’s office will not contract with anyone who has a felony conviction.”

Manual Zarate, the president and founder of HBMG altered the name of his company from “HB Media” to “HBMG inc” after Comptroller Strayhorn’s scathing investigation was released.

Austin Business Journal produced an article called “Road to Riches” with a focus on Manual Zarate’s HBMG inc. The article states how 70 percent of HBMG's business comes from the transportation sector.

HBMG’s client list include:

* Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority
* Fluor, Inc
* HNTB Engineering
* Pate Engineers
* Pioneer Development Corporation
* Prime Strategies
* Texas Department of Transportation
* Texas Turnpike Authority Division
* Williamson County (Texas)
* Zachry Construction

HB Media (HBMG) subcontractor invoices for CTRMA work, from late 2003, show convicted criminal Pete Peters making over $11,000 a month at $145 per hour from the tax funded toll authority. I’ve also been told about Peters and Zarate working to get Trans Texas Corridor media work from the Spanish company Cintra.

In 2002, the Statesman wrote an article called, "In Williamson, politics, roads and money mix", read it HERE.

This article is part 4 of a 12 part series called “Circle of Parasites”. Freeways have never been tolled in the history of the U.S., but that doesn’t stop a close circle of mostly Williamson County characters with a long history of looking out for themselves at the expense of others.

Read the other “Circle of Parasites” articles:

1 of 12: Deadbeat Mike Heiligenstein

2 of 12: Two Toll Authority Board Members Refuse to Resign

3 of 12: Austin American Snakesman

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