By Kathi Bliss
In a shocking pre-election move by Caldwell County Judge Tom Bonn, a complaint was filed recently against Sheriff Daniel Law.
A letter addressed to the Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Division and dated Oct. 5 alleges Law is in violation of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter 59, which governs the collection and spending of assets forfeited through the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions.
The letter was read into the record at Monday’s meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners Court without discussion. In it, Bonn alleged that Law violated the statute by not coming before the Commissioners Court to seek approval of a budget for expenditures from funds derived from asset forfeitures. Further, he alleges the Sheriff committed perjury by signing a sworn statement suggesting his office had neither received nor spent funds in connection with asset forfeitures.
The report attached to the letter, however, shows differently, and reflects uniforms and equipment purchased with asset forfeiture funds.
However, the report presented by Bonn within the complaint and the report received by the Office of the Attorney General appear to be different. A report provided by the State does not include the “certification” Bonn alleges that Law filed stating there had been no receipt or expenditure of funds.
Law claims the attack was politically motivated, and was read into the record during Monday’s meeting in order to force local newspapers to address the issue. He also said his records and budgets have been prepared and submitted in accordance with state law, and that he is not concerned about legal backlash from the complaint.
Within the complaint, Bonn makes mention of a recent purchase of a fuel tank which was purchased earlier this year, during a controversy in which Law and County Auditor Larry Roberson locked horns over the county’s FuelMan card policy. Bonn notes Law said he would arrest Roberson if the FuelMan cards were deactivated, as Roberson threatened they would be.
Bonn said he believed Law did not present a budget to the Commissioners Court for the purchase of the fuel tank because he (Law) thought that it would not be approved by the Commissioners.
Law agreed that he told Roberson that he would be arrested, not if the FuelMan cards were deactivated, but rather if that deactivation caused a deputy to be unable to respond to a call for lack of fuel in a patrol car or cash on hand to pay for refueling.
Of note, while the statute noted in Bonn’s letter does call for a budget to be submitted “to the commissioners court or governing body of the municipality” prior to expenditure of funds, it does not explicitly require approval of that governing body, and simply says the funds are subject to audit.
Law said on Tuesday that he had responded to the complaint via the Office of the Attorney General and maintained his innocence. He called the attack a political ploy, and linked it to Bonn’s and Roberson’s personal distaste for him, and their desire to see him ousted in the November election.
Check in with www.post-register.com for details on this story as the investigation develops, or see next week’s Post-Register for an update.