Welcome to Cherokee County, Texas the Official Site on Corruption

"Sunlight is the best disinfectant."

County audits bring finger-pointing to Precinct 3; Bullard police officer admits having sex with minor

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Jacksonville, TX:

Things are steaming up in Cherokee County, folks, but talk about ‘the pot calling the kettle black.’  The embedded corrupt aspect is targeting recently elected officials who shake the tree and expose the ingrained favoritism. Longtime Cherokee County elected officials and generational county employees have funneled the equivalent of millions of taxpayers’ dollars to themselves and their ilk over the last several decades. County equipment has been used to bulldoze, pave and enhance the private properties of in-laws for the last 30 years. The installation of culverts, cattle crossing guards, wooden bridges and roadbed are routine for Cherokee County’s so-called elite on their rural properties. In order to distract from the ingrained corruption, Cherokee County is attempting again what they do best, that is to blame someone else for exactly what they themselves blatantly do. Their target this month is the only forthright County Commissioner in their ranks.

They hope to pass the stench over to agencies within the county who do not buckle under the pressure of the corrupt Rusk, TX courthouse. Local reporters enable false charges by deliberately not fact-checking the accusations made against the whistleblowers. And the Cherokeean Herald is Johnny-on-the-spot eager to publish the crap fed them by current occupants of the Rusk courthouse. According to the Daily Progress, Precinct 3 Commissioner Katherine Pinotti is being investigated by law enforcement for maintaining a misidentified county road. Instead of keeping his nose in his own jurisdiction, longtime Precinct 4 Commissioner Byron Underwood has tattled on his political opponents’ maintenance of a segment of County Road 3403 (now called Patterson Lane), 5 miles north of Jacksonville in the Mount Selman area. (Source: Jacksonville Daily Progress August 26, 2010)

The county road in dispute, Patterson Lane, is currently maintained by Precinct 3 because it is a thoroughfare from CR 3401 (Old Jacksonville Rd.) to CR 3404,  just West of HWY 69. According to the Daily Progress article, Commissioner Pinotti performed her due diligence in requesting county maps be updated to reflect the delineation of missing roads and her constituents’ requests to maintain Patterson Lane. Especially after the heavy rains her boss County Judge Chris Davis claims to have championed just months earlier. The fact is Patterson Lane is not a private road. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department that is spearheading the “investigation” and County Attorney hope the rest of the county thinks otherwise. It all depends on who you are related to as to whether or not you can get away with using county equipment on private property. Precinct 3 has been open and has kept records about its maintenance of Patterson Lane. How dare this woman publish how and where the precinct maintenance money is spent!

The good ol’ boys are playing gotcha politics with the only female Commissioner in Cherokee County, Texas. Their tactics are as old as the corruption they perpetuate: criminalize perfectly legal actions and prosecute those outside of their circle for the shenanigans that they themselves commit every single day. Once again their goal is to make a law-abider spend thousands of dollars in legal fees to fight a trumped up charge. Their modus operandi is always the same; they use the Sheriff’s Department and courthouse to ruin the reputations and the lives of political opponents. The County Bosses hold the purse strings and they aren’t letting go until Cherokee County taxpayers wise up, shed their inertia and vote them all out.

Commissioner Pinotti is not under attack for merely ingratiating herself by extending county services to the residents on Patterson Lane; she is accused of the crime of “misusing county funds” that her entrenched political peers have been committing for decades. They say she improperly used county equipment, labor and time to maintain a road not under the aegis of her Precinct. Of course it is not a crime for a county commissioner to maintain a lateral road on which dozens of homesteads are located.

Those on the attack want Precinct 3 residents to believe as a commissioner, Pinotti has no discretion as to where she sends her crews. Does she have to, according to County Attorney Craig Caldwell, ask for the male members of the Commissioner’s Court to grant her permission to fix a street name sign?  Has Caldwell ever held the other commissioners to that standard during his tenure? Of course not. Patterson Lane is not a private driveway; it is a school bus route used to pick up the children living up and down the road. In the County Attorney’s mind the contiguous tracts of land are still conveniently “undeveloped” but part of a “subdivision,” nonetheless. (Source: “Commissioner paves Patterson LaneCherokeean Herald August 25, 2010) So where’s the crime?

Let’s look at those private catfish ponds dug by county employees on the clock and with county equipment. Let’s look at community service workers maintaining private driveways, such as the ones all over Precinct 2 and Precinct 4. 

How dare a woman challenge the good ol’ boy network!

Unfortunately for the Pinotti family, every single private phone conversation they’ve ever had in that county has been intercepted by law enforcement and their mail rifled through by post office employees since she began upsetting the political hiarchy. Those in high places must not like what she has to say about them in private phone calls and certainly don’t like her candidness with the voters. It is their plan to have Commissioner Pinotti buckle under the financial strain of hiring an attorney to chase rabbit trails and coerce her to admit to “some type of mapping error.” In order for the Commissioner’s Court to go back to the way it was in the good ol’ pre-Women’s Lib days of meeting behind closed doors with no citizen or fiscal oversight.

It’s like the foxes guarding the chicken coop!

A few weeks prior to this façade, the Jacksonville Daily Progress reported Justice of the Peace clerk Heidi Jones Tyler was accused of stealing cash money straight out of the Precinct 3 office. She was placed on administrative leave after preliminary county audits of Pct. 3 funds fell short by $30,000. (Source: “Up to $30,000 missingCherokeean Herald August 18, 2010)

Justice of the Peace James Morris was alerted when a resident asked for a cash receipt for a previously paid fine. The fine had been falsely entered as “dismissed.” Sources close to the investigation report an arrest in the case is imminent.  (Source: CBS 19TV August 13, 2010) J.P. Morris has also been outspoken about the corruption he has witnessed at the Commissioner’s Court meetings and has written letters to the Texas Attorney General’s office. After bowing to pressure from new county commissioners, Cherokee County’s local and 3rd party auditors are revealing the depth and breadth of missing funds in particular agencies.

Perhaps “missing funds” are made up for by the county’s unethical revenue-generating tactic of withholding proceeds payable to owners of real and mineral properties. Cherokee County deposits unlawfully nondispersed funds into interest-bearing accounts with associated cumulative fees generating for the county treasurer’s and county clerk’s offices to ‘administer.’  The county certainly knows how to utilize its databases when it demands bloated taxes from its citizens. But those good ol’ boys and gals in the Rusk, TX courthouse just can’t seem to come up with a serviceable mailing address when the county has its mitts on funds due to those on their Muck With List.  

The Cherokeean Herald cites another $18,881 stolen in 2009 from the Adult Probation Office that taxpayers will have to reimburse. Cherokee County Adult Probation Director Carl Phillips was charged in December 2009 with embezzling over $60,000 in illicit credit card purchases during an alleged 10-year spending spree. County Auditor L.H. Crockett tells the Herald readers:

I understand that when Tommy Kerzee [incoming probation director] replaced Mr. Phillips, he was told what was going on. It seems some probation department staff members knew about the credit card charges. Mr. Kerzee called the state and they sent (state) auditors to go through the old records,”
County Investigator Lt. John Raffield said that Mr. Kerzee came to him, District Attorney Elmer Beckworth and DA Investigator Randy Hatch.

The article continues:

Mr. Raffield said at least two persons in the probation department knew that Mr. Phillips was allegedly using the credit card for his own personal use. (Source: Cherokeean Herald December 23, 2009)

Carl Phillips gets his service award from County Judge Chris Davis.

Despite the evidence and county employee witnesses, initial charges against Phillips were dismissed on July 29, 2010. In order to drag the case out indefinitely and shunt from public spectacle, the case was re-entered on the Cherokee County docket. It’s good to have friends in high places who you can collect dirt on to stave off a costly defense. Does it normally take a decade of witnesses coming forward and a handful of district attorney investigators for Elmer Beckworth to prosecute one of his favorite jury panelists?


Filed 11/23/2009 – Disposition: 07/29/2010 Dismissed-insufficient evidence; 2nd District Court, Cherokee County, TX.

Filed 07/26/2010 – Disposition: current; 2nd District Court, Cherokee County, TX.

Bullard, TX:

Steven Wayne Morris: Bullard, TX cop received 8 Years in prison for sexual assault to a child. The case began with intercepted texts to a 15-year old and his suspension as reported in local newspapers. (Source: KLTV) Morris is eligible for parole in 2020 thanks to Smith County prosecutors.

Cherokee County resident and resource officer for the Bullard ISD, Steven Wayne Morris, age 26 has been with the Bullard Police Department for two years. Officer Morris was suspended without pay in June 2010 during an investigation involving an undisclosed student at the Bullard High School. The patrolman initially lied to his superiors about having a relationship with a student and was terminated. During questioning by the Texas Rangers, Morris admitted to having repeated sexual encounters with a 15-year-old Bullard student in the back of her car. Officer Morris has been charged with sexual assault of a child and is incarcerated in Smith County jail on a $350,000 bond. (Source: “Bullard police officer charged with sexual assault of child” KLTV, August 20, 2010)


9 Responses

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  1. Thank you for exposing all the county corruption. When I want to know what is “really” going on, I come here to read about it. Whoever writes this blog is an exceptional citizen, a great writer, and one who is intelligent and obviously has insight into areas unknown to the rest of us. I personally appreciate the effort. I hope you don’t mind, but I have also put a link to this blog on my own website. Thanks for all you do for “we the people.”

    Katherine Pinotti

    09/05/2010 at 12:52 PM

    • Mrs. Pinotti,
      What world are you living in? I have only read a few of these stories on this site and over half of the content was false. An “exceptional” citizen wouldnt put such lies on here and would make sure the “stories” were true! With everything you have done lately, what lies will they put on here about you?

      truth seeker

      09/20/2010 at 2:05 PM

      • Half the blog’s content is the actual published quotes of your elected officials, so yes in essence over half of the sourced “stories” could be considered “false.” Also, it’s your sheriff department and district attorney who are trying to criminalize legit road work; the same type of county employee construction improvements too many of your elected officials have enjoyed on their own private properties for decades. The “lies” about Mrs. Pinotti are being published in the Cherokeean Herald and propagated by her accusers, namely the tacit implication that Patterson Lane was not maintained by Mrs. Pinotti’s predecessors.

      • Truth Seeker is obviously one of or close friends with the hundreds of corrupt and/or inbred Cherokee County residents who steal taxpayers money. Take no comfort in this, and yes Cherokee County is one of the worst places I have ever lived, I have come across some places in the Midwest that are far worse, if that is possible? Unfortunatly, it is true. There are worse places than Cherokee County, but not many. If you aren’t a son/daughter of a well-known or prominient citizen forget being well-received at JHS or voted into any office that means anything. Sad but true!!!

        Steve Pope

        09/27/2010 at 1:15 PM

  2. The Cherokeean Herald reports the district attorney is eager to sit Commissioner Pinotti in front of his hand-picked grand jury—made up of relatives of her political opponents. She has been diligent about her elected position and her constituents trust and respect her. To the outside world, Cherokee County, Texas is no place for the honorable and the brave. Entrenched public corruption here goes back generations. Honest public officials are such a rarity here that it is statistically implausible even Commissioner Pinotti’s reputation will withstand the predictable character assassination.

    Turpitude is the lifestyle of those elected officials who parasite off the taxpayers and Elmer Beckworth is their go-to guy. They pay his bills and his staff, while he protects the county from lawsuits (while letting recidivist child molesters pump money into the county probation coffers). Their intent is not to just drive her out; the standard protocol for Beckworth and those in and out of his pocket it is to punish innocent people who challenge them. Mrs. Pinotti may have never spoken out about those in the Rusk courthouse, but her honesty and integrity make her a threat to those who are intent on retiring in office.

    The local political machinery knows the strategic importance of controlling what the media publishes and political agenda. Independent press is nonexistent here because the local journalists voluntarily allow themselves to be marionettes for the D.A.’s office. It is all too clear these county-based reporters are not simply oblivious to the facts staring us and the rest of the world right in the face; they actively participate in the smear-mongering.

    As you stated in one of your recent postings, there is no such thing as “Republican” or “Democrat” in Cherokee County. There is only the corrupt who have been on the taxpayer dole for decades, and the new blood of outsiders who want to disinfect the county by bringing it “into the sunlight.” All incumbents need to be at the unemployment line next November. Unfortunately, that will not happen with the current nepotism and cronyism that grips the Cherokee County judiciary. Like a Third World dictatorship, they will target any and everyone not towing their corrupt line. Mrs. Pinotti should gather her loved ones, take her wallet and walk far far away from this place.

    The human lifespan is much too short to waste any of it in a place where criminal behavior is rewarded and honest decent citizens are targeted. The Commissioner’s honesty with her constituents will never be appreciated and acknowledged here other than by the few long-timers who know the magnitude of Cherokee County’s public corruption. It all comes down to who you’re related to and Pinotti is not one of the Klan. She is a threat to them and they are going to make her pay.

    Signed: In The Know


    09/10/2010 at 7:53 PM

    • Very well put. When the blog retires in a few years, I want you to take it over!
      There are brave individuals who publicly offer their support for the commissioner. Perhaps the county will heed their advice and VOTE OUT the incumbents who have been milking it past their 10-year anniversaries. Even if it means jumping back-and-forth between PARTY LINES come voting day.
      The “Klan” has certainly been placing their cousins on both tickets for decades. Voters need to do a little homework to find out who is related to who on the ballot. Maybe we’ll do that for them next month.

  3. The writer of this article would do well to look at a map. There is no Patterson Lane in the Eagle’s Bluff development. The street in question is at least 10 miles from the Eagle’s Bluff entrance and does not appear to be a road that would be traveled by those traveling to Eagle’s Bluff.
    That being said, I am aware of the problem with the Cherokee County maps and Commissioner Pinotti should be praised for her efforts to have this corrected.


    12/30/2010 at 11:29 PM

    • The article has been corrected to reflect the Mount Selman area; Eagles Bluff is several miles to the West.
      The latter was mentioned due to the dissolvement of the Cherokee County Development District # 1 at Eagles Bluff and the County’s approval of road maps during the same time period.

  4. Thanks for a good post to help me along the way, I am grateful for all of the energy in studying as well as writing this blog website.


    01/25/2011 at 2:22 AM

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