Four Texas men are behind bars following arrests on allegations of government document tampering. One of those arrested was a local sheriff, and the other three were all employed by the county sheriff's office. Tampering with documents is considered a felony charge, as is breaching computer security, which is the second charge on which they were arrested.
The accusations come from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, which launched the investigation following information that professional misconduct might have occurred. TCOLE's affidavit alleges that the sheriff convinced someone else to take an important exam on his behalf. He supposedly also had another individual report that she had witnessed an inmate at a bar instead of in jail where he or she was supposed to be.
The sheriff's deputy may have also been involved in some of the alleged misconduct. According to TCOLE, the deputy had forged certain documents with a stamp of the sheriff's signature. The final two sheriff office employees named in the affidavit were employed at a local jail. One of the men -- a jailer -- might have taken the online class for another local jailer.
Since his arrest, the sheriff was suspended pending the final results of the case. It is unclear whether the other men involved were also suspended or if they were instead excused from their posts. However, the quick decision to suspend the sheriff paints a clear picture of the potentially serious repercussions of a conviction on even just a single felony charge. Depending on the charges and relevant evidence, defendants may choose to either fight the charges throughout the entirety of trial court proceedings until a jury will ultimately determine a verdict, or they may enter into a plea bargain, after which the prosecution must uphold their end of the agreement.
Source: kxxv.com, "Hill County Sheriff Temporarily Suspended Following Arrest", April 1, 2015