Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Former Panola Sheriff Ron Clinton Pleads Guilty to Tampering With a Government Document

Carthage, Texas

Former Panola County Sheriff Ron Clinton has pled guilty to tampering with a government document, but Judge Diane DeVasto withheld a finding of guilt and sentenced Clinton to three years' probation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Clinton voluntarily surrendered his peace officer's license, but it also resolves any other state or federal criminal complaints against him, Moore said. Clinton will also repay the county $1,000 in restitution.

It was in November, that Clinton was elected sheriff. He was sworn into office Jan. 1, but was arrested in February, after local authorities charged him with tampering with a government record, abuse of official capacity and theft by a public servant.

The original warrant contained the following information, according to a local Panola County news source:

Warrant No. 1033-69 - Abuse of Official Capacity - a Class A Misdemeanor; Warrant No. 1034-69 - Theft by Public Servant - a State Jail Felony; and Warrant No. 1035-69 - Tampering with Government Document - a State Jail Felony - all show Clinton stands accused by written affidavit under oath of Ranger Brent Davis filed before the Magistrate in and for Panola County anterior to the issuance of the warrants.

The official warrant affidavit/complaint supporting the arrest of Sheriff Clinton states: “The State of Texas County of Panola Arrest Warrant Affidavit

Before me, the undersigned authority, on this day personally appeared the undersigned affiant who after being by me duly sworn on oath deposes and says: My name is Brent Davis and I have good reason to believe and do believe that on or about the 11th day of January 2013, in Panola County, Texas, Ronald Worth Clinton did then and there intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, intentionally or knowingly misuse government property or any other thing of value belonging to the government, to wit confidentially informant (CI) fund, which had come into the defendants custody or possession by virtue of the defendants office as a public servant, namely Sheriff of Panola County, by utilizing the fund moneys to pay a personal debt, and the value of said money was $500 or more but less than $1500.

Against the Peace and Dignity of the State:

My belief of the above is based on the following facts and information:

Affiant is Brent Davis, a Texas Ranger assigned to the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Affiant has been a licensed Peace Officer for approximately 16 years.

Affiant was assigned a special investigation into allegations that the Panola County Sheriff Ronald Clinton misappropriated funds, which concern cash payments to informants.

On 11-26-12 Clinton was issued a travel advance of $882.50 for meals to attend a new Sheriffs school in Austin in December 2012. On 11-26-12 Clinton was a public servant, serving as a peace officer with the Panola County Sheriff’s Office.

On 1-1 13 Clinton took office as Sheriff of Panola County, Texas.

On 1-10-13 the Panola County Auditor’s Office requested receipts for funds appropriately used and return any excess funds.

On 1-10-13, Sheriff Clinton prepared a written request to the Panola County Auditor to take funds out of Seizure and Forfeiture Fund to cover expenses incurred during the aforementioned training. The Panola County Auditor denied his request.

On 1-11-13, Sheriff Clinton received $1000 out of the Confidential Information (CI) fund to pay an informant for information relating to the theft of oilfield equipment in and around Panola County.

On the same date, Sheriff Clinton repaid the outstanding balance of $810.58 in the same monetary denomination as the CI Fund to the Panola County Treasurers’ Office.

On 1-30-13 the Panola County Auditor’s Office conducted an audit on the CI Fund and Sheriff Clinton provided an official document to wit: a CI receipt, which had an illegible signature of the informant and on witness signature. The receipt did have Sheriff Clinton’s signature.

On 2-13-13 Affiant interviewed Sheriff Clinton and was provided [the informant] name of “ Joe Stanley”, but Affiant was told he could not meet said informant.

On 2-27-13, Affiant interviewed [the informant] and was told Sheriff Clinton came to his residence in Gary, Panola County, Texas and asked [the informant] to meet with Texas Ranger and tell him that he ( [the informant] ) received $1000 in twenty (20) dollar bills for drug information.

[The informant] further advised he did not sign any documents and Sheriff Clinton provided him the name of Joe Stanley to use as the informant name. Sheriff Clinton stated he would attempt to help with [the informant’s] probation if he did this for him. Sheriff Clinton also gave [the informant] a $20 bill before leaving.

Later on the same date, Affiant received a telephone call from Sheriff Clinton inquiring if everything was okay after [the informant] interview. Affiant Informed Sheriff Clinton he needed to provide the truth and the conversation ended.

I was informed that Sheriff Clinton brought [the informant] to the Panola County Sheriff’s Office and had him provide a written statement stating the Texas Rangers and the FBI forced [the informant] to say things that were not true.

On the same date at approximately 6:47 p.m., Affiant received a text message from Sheriff Clinton advised the aforementioned written statement had been prepared.”

The arrest warrant affidavit was received Feb. 28, 2013 by Panola County J. P. Court Precinct 1, by Judge David Gray.

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