Hill County Sheriff Indicted on Tampering Charges - KXXV Central Texas News Now

HILL COUNTY

Hill County Sheriff Indicted on Tampering Charges

HILL COUNTY, TX (KXXV) - UPDATE: Hill County Sheriff Michael Cox has been indicted on four charges related to alleged misconduct within the sheriff's office following an investigation conducted by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

Cox was indicted on an abuse of official capacity charge, two tampering with a government record charges, and a breach of computer security charge.

Hill County Chief Deputy Mark Wilson was indicted on seven tampering with a governmental record charges, along with a breach of computer security charge. Former Cpt. Leroy Rodriguez was indicted on two tampering charges and a breach of computer security charge.

Click here to read the full indictments against Sheriff Cox and the others.
Hill County Sheriff Michael Cox was temporarily suspended by Judge James E. Morgan Wednesday afternoon after he and three other Hill County Sheriff's Office employees were arrested. 

At an emergency Hill County Commissioner's Court meeting, Hill County Judge Justin W. Lewis announced Wes Collins will serve as temporary sheriff for the county.

Special Prosecutor David Deaconson has been appointed to the criminal matters after Hill County District Attorney Mark Pratt recused himself.

Sheriff Cox, his chief deputy, and two other Hill County Sheriff's Office employees turned themselves in Wednesday after they were named on warrants for tampering with government documents and breach of computer security.

Sheriff Cox, Hill County Chief Deputy Mark Wilson, former Cpt. Leroy Rodriguez, and jailer Bryan Winget were all named on warrants issued Wednesday following an investigation conducted by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). Each charge is a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years in prison.

TCOLE began their investigation at the request of the Hill County Attorney's Office, who received a tip of misconduct within their office.

Sheriff Cox's attorney, Pete Schulte, said these cases are usually sent to the grand jury before issuing arrest warrants, and these charges are "laughable."

"They are absolutely false. He is innocent. He looks forward going to court and showing these charges are politically motivated and false," said Schulte.

Cox faces three counts of tampering with a government document. The affidavit accuses Cox of coercing Haley Watkins into taking his Telecommunicator's Online Exam in August 2014 for the TCOLE telecommunicator's license.

He is also accused of defrauding the Texas Commission on Jail Standards by having Kristi Patterson "lie about an inmate being seen downtown at a local restaurant" in a response on his official letterhead to a complaint submitted by TCJS.

"He didn't have anyone take an exam for him for his telecommunications license and the jail commission was absolutely factual based on his investigation," said Schulte.

Lewis said if Cox is found guilty, he will be removed from office. If he is found not guilty, he will be reinstated and he could possibly sue the county for any damages caused.

Hill County Chief Deputy Mark Wilson has been charged with six counts of tampering with a government document and a breach of computer security charge.

Wilson is also accused of coercing Haley Watkins to take Cox's TCOLE exam, as well as signing and notarizing five county jailer appointment documents with a "stamped" signature for Sheriff Cox, instead of his actual signature, according to the affidavit.

Leroy Rodriguez faces a charge of both tampering with documents and breach of computer security for letting a county jailer, Bryan Winget, take his online course for his jailer's license, which was given in January 2015.

Winget faces a charge of breach of computer security for taking Rodriguez's online course for his jailer's license.

Click here for the full arrest warrant and charges against these four.

Powered by Frankly