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Local man arrested after defrauding county

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WACO -

After months of investigating, the McLennan County Sheriff's Office arrested a local man for defrauding the county.

The McLennan County Commissioners hired an investigator in October specifically to start looking into the county's Indigent Defense Fund for possible fraud cases.

James Tyrone Johnson was behind bars Friday, for tampering with government records which is a third degree felony.

Johnson lied when he applied for a court appointed attorney claiming he couldn't afford one. The sheriff's office later found he tried to claim more dependants and hide his assets in order to qualify.

The money used to appoint a lawyer comes from the county's indigent defense fund. That fund was established to help low-income residents get a lawyer if they can't afford one and the county spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year paying those attorneys. 

Investigators are now taking a closer look at people who apply.

McLennan County Sheriff's Lt. Johnny Spillman says he hopes Johnson's arrest serves as a warning to others who may try to scam the county.

"If they're defrauding the system and we can prove it, they're certainly going to jail. On the other end of that, there are people everyday that are indigent and it just frees up another attorney they can use," says Spillman.

They said at least ten more arrests could be coming.  

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