Plea bargains equal paybacks; Conflicts of Law and Order
A case for and against jury sentencing.
The ongoing saga of the missing $147,000 from the Rusk Texas water department finally has closure. Prior to her July 2009 trial, Rusk water department clerk Doris Robinson had been quietly preparing to pay back the first round of $50,000 increments she had stolen during her tenure as a Cherokee County public servant. Robinson pleaded guilty in open court and a sentencing jury was swayed to give her 10 years probation. She was fined $5,000 and ordered by presiding Judge Bascom Bentley III to pay back over a four year period, the remaining taxpayer monies that she embezzled over a two year period. (Source: Jacksonville Daily Progress July 9, 2009)
District [369th] Judge Bascom Bentley added his own stipulation that Robinson make her restitution within four years, with payments of at least $10,000 due, Dec. 31 of each year. (Source: Jacksonville Daily Progress July 9, 2009)
Mrs. Robinson pleaded to embezzling over $145,000 from the taxpayers. Of course that would be $10,000 a year for four years for a total of $40,000; plus the $57,000 she paid at sentencing. That would leave an unnoticed remainder of $50,000 to go unaccounted…
courtesy Daily Progress
Not to go unnoticed in the news, the 369th District Court convened this mock trial on Wednesday July 8, 2009 and local newspapers followed suit. Mrs. Robinson agreed to have this local jury “decide” her punishment, which theoretically could have ranged from nothing to 10 years in state prison. The maleable jury was seated to assess only the punishment phase of the case. Robinson had previously waived her rights to a jury trial and she accepted District Attorney Elmer Beckworth’s plea bargain. Before deciding Mrs. Robinson’s punishment, the Cherokee County jury heard opening statements, along with testimonies from witnesses. (Source: Tyler Paper July 9, 2009)
Strategically designated Cherokee County ‘dignitaries’ bombarded jurors with accolades about the Robinson family, while the specific methodology implemented to achieve the embezzlement was swept under the carpet. This was the punishment phase of the “trial;” guilt was already established though Mrs. Robinson was never forced to admit her guilt to the jurors. Local newspapers followed suit, leaving reasonable doubt that a clerical error could have resulted in the missing $150,000. It was in the hands of the 12 jurors to decide whether or not prison was appropriate for a 62-year old “Christian” woman without a CPA license (Source: Jacksonville Daily Progress July 9, 2009)
The State did not vigorously present mitigating factors for a harsher sentence, hence the premeditated deliberation of 10 years community supervision. The process itself is a contradiction (plea bargain acceptance, then jury sentencing of the same punishment), and is a not so clever way for district attorneys and judges to appear to be removed from the case. In a tiny town of only 5,000 people, that concept is entirely ridiculous. Mrs. Robinson’s fate was determined in the judge’s chamber months before the jury was vetted.
The fact is the presiding judge had already accepted the punishment of the defendant, because the district court is mandated by law to show record of the defendant voluntarily waiving his or her rights to a trial and PLEADING GUILTY.
From the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, when a trial by jury has been waived, the district judge determines the sentence. To stave off embarrassment of a long and costly trial, the Doris Robinson case followed the prosecution’s recommendation of probation. District Judges can either accept or reject said plea bargains. The precedent of jury sentencing is always under fire due to the nature of the limited evidence heard at sentencing, versus extensive and specific evidence allowed at trial. So don’t be snookered into believing it was the compassionate jury composed of five white women, a black woman and six white men sentencing Mrs. Robinson after 1 hour and 45 minutes of ‘deliberation’ who meted out probation as her sentence. (Source: Cherokeean Herald July 8, 2009)
The fix was in from day one because she was a city employee and faced Elmer Beckworth and a Cherokee County jury instead of a legitimate federal jury. Cherokee County Texas prosecutors, law enforcement and Beckworth’s handpicked jurors are more interested in putting Civil Rights complainants in prison than public servants caught stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in city revenue.
According to the July 8, 2009 Cherokeean Herald, Doris Robinson was sentenced that same day to 10 years in prison, with that sentence probated for 10 years, fined $5,000 in her “theft trial” and ordered to pay $143,000 in restitution. Readers of Rusk’s local Cherokeean newspaper are predictably misled into presuming defendant Robinson was scrutinized in a full-fledged “theft trial” by jurors who then sentenced her to repay the money in order to avoid imprisonment.
BEFORE July 8, 2009, Mrs. Doris Robinson pleaded guilty to theft of Rusk Water Department funds in her plea bargain, which resulted in her avoiding a “theft trial” by jury with its inherent risk of imposition of incarceration if found guilty by those trial jurors. So why in the world is it permissible for the court’s time (taxpayers’ money) to be squandered on assembling a jury panel solely for the purpose of sentencing confessed thief Mrs. Robinson when the district judge is the one with the authority to impose sentencing of plea bargainers?
It is quite implausible that Mrs. Robinson’s capable legal advisors would have approved her written admission of guilt if that document did not contain the specific requirements for avoidance of incarceration, to include but not limited to, her acknowledgement that she will repay within a set timeline the funds she admitted stealing. It’s smoke and mirrors Cherokee County style with public officials and local media creating the illusion that courthouse employees are honorably utilizing the salaries they draw from the taxpayers’ collective wallet. The fact is the Robinson probation sentence was already a done deal in verbiage of her signed plea and sentencing agreement.
As usual, they want to have it both ways when ‘Project Got to Fool ‘Em Everyday’ is in full swing. If a local steals the same amount of money from a federally insured bank, then a stiffer penalty and different outcome can be expected outside the tainted Cherokee County legal process.
47-year old bank teller Lloyd Wayne Rock, also from Jacksonville, TX, was indicted in federal court for stealing over $145,000 from a Bank of America located in Tyler, TX. Rock is accused of stealing the money since he began his employment at the Tyler branch in 1995. Lloyd Rock pleaded guilty on July 29 to the embezzlement charge and faces up to 30 years in federal prison if convicted. (Source: Tyler Paper July 29, 2009)
Wood County, TX:
Wood County officials are requesting the Texas Rangers move their attention away from Cherokee County and come on down to help find $1,063 missing from the county treasurer’s office. Treasurer Becky Cannon faces a Wood County grand jury for the “misplaced funds” from the sale of scrap metal. (Source: Tyler Paper July 29, 2009)
Rusk County, TX:
A female prison guard at the Henderson Bradshaw Unit has been arraigned for paying an inmate to perform sex acts on her. Hether Bargsley, 32 was fired June 13 after admitting to officials she had paid a prisoner $200 for having sex in a doorway.
Rusk County Sheriff Department dispatcher and warrant clerk Kristy Campbell, 43, was charged on July 31 with cashing in a stolen money order of a missing $500 bond.Theft of service by a public official is a state jail felony. (Source Tyler Paper July 31, 2009)
Smith County, TX:
A Pct. 1 Smith County Deputy Constable, who is also the son of Precinct 3 Commissioner Terry Phillips, is under investigation for being on the payroll but not having a TCLEOSE police officer’s license. Derek Lee Phillips, age 23 had come under scrutiny by the Texas Rangers after an incident the night of June 29, in which he pulled a handgun on guests at his father’s property. Phillips has been patrolling with other deputies and identifying himself as a deputy constable, despite being unlicensed. (Source: Tyler Paper July 16, 2009)
One official said the county is liable for officers and deputies, and a person with as many citations as Phillips would also be a problem for insurance. (Source: Tyler Paper July 16, 2009)
A stark difference of facts presented in neighboring Smith County;
Cherokee County’s liability insurance provider in concert with elected officials have a proven track record of schmoozing public opinion that its policyholder county is a low-risk client. Even after hiring gypsy cops and rapists who cause huge insurance claims for the county that employs them.
A female deputy Smith County constable is also under Texas Ranger investigation and is also patrolling Pct. 1. This after she was alleged to have instigated a scuffle at her former boyfriend’s Tyler apartment complex. Newly licensed Minerva Martin is accused of going to a former boyfriend’s apartment to confront him and his current girlfriend, according to witnesses’ accounts and disturbance calls.( Source: Tyler Paper July 23, 2009)
It is also reported that TCLEOSE officials have recommended Precinct 1 Constable Henry Jackson’s license be revoked. Constable Jackson pleaded guilty in August 2008 to a Misdemeanor count of tampering with a governmental record and was given six months deferred adjudication. He also pleaded no contest to a Class C assault charge from sexual harassment and official oppression allegations. (Source: Tyler Paper July 17, 2009)
Constable Henry Jackson
Tyler, TX Police Chaplain Anwar Khalifa was arrested in a Dallas hotel by an off duty Frisco, TX police officer, when the officer working security caught Khalifa smoking marijuana in the parking lot. Khalifa, the former head of the East Texas Islamic Society, was asked to resign by Tyler’s chief of police. (Source: Tyler Paper July 23, 2009)
Frisco Police Sgt. Crawford took the remainder of the marijuana and rolling paper and logged it as evidence and also notified the Tyler Police Department of the incident. (Source: Tyler Paper July 23, 2009)
Anwar Khalifa (Courtesy KLTV Tyler, TX)
Another stark difference from a recent Cherokee County, TX episode when Constable Randall Thompson was arrested by federal agents on the Mexican border for meth distribution. Instead of turning his badge in, Randy Thompson continued his role as Pct. 3 Constable up to the day he was indicted in federal court on drug charges. Employers of public officials such as Constable Thompson and Khalifa are always notified when the employee is arrested elsewhere. Despite Cherokee County’s pattern of pretending not to know their political allies have been arrested and are facing federal indictment the next day. Cherokee County’s District Attorney’s office, the Sheriff’s Department and constables routinely “split the revenue” of seized property during drug raids (even airplanes), without oversight. (Source: Cherokeean Herald August 27, 2008)
Jacksonville High School assistant coach Jerry Chism, 34 of Longview, was placed on administrative leave after being indicted for participating in illegal dog-fights. The football coach had been arrested in November 2008 for a DWI in Gregg County, before transferring to nearby Jacksonville ISD where he was employed for approximately one year.
Jerry “Scotty” Chism was arrested July 8 in Panola County during a three-state sting which led to over 25 other defendants being indicted in federal court for animal cruelty. (Source: Tyler Paper July 16, 2009)
JHS Coach Jerry Chism