Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) confirmed rangers arrested Loving County Judge Skeet Lee Jones on Friday. The law enforcement officers also arrested Leroy Medlin Jr., a former sheriff’s deputy, and two ranch hands, Cody Williams and Jonathon Alvarado. All four stand accused of picking wandering cattle and selling them in connection with a year-long investigation.
Each suspect faces charges one charge of organized crime, according to UPI. Judge Jones and Williams are also facing three felony counts of livestock theft. Additionally, officials charged Alvardo with the theft of one bovine.
The TSCRA peace officers — special rangers — are commissioned through the Texas Department of Public Safety or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. These officers are dually authorized to handle agricultural crime in both states. Rangers look into an average of 1,000 agrarian crime cases and recover about $5 million in stolen cattle yearly.
Jeremy Fuchs, a TSCRA spokesman, said the investigation is ongoing and could lead to the filing of added charges.
Judge Jones is the county’s top elected official and earns $133 294 annually. He has served in the least populated county in the continental United States since 2007. As of the last census, 57 individuals live in Loving County. The news of the arrests spread quickly.
A Texas Election lawyer, Susan Hays, expressed disgust about Jones’ arrest for cattle theft and organized crime. She told NBC News:
You can’t make this [garbage] up. It’s a pain in the ass to round up cattle and take them to market. And then to risk real trouble for it? It’s just asinine to me.
The suspects were taken to Winkler County Jail and formally charged with cattle theft and organized crime. They posted bond and were released.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
KXAN: Texas judge arrested, charged with cattle theft and organized crime; by James Clark
NBC News: The top elected official in Texas’ smallest county is charged with cattle theft; by Susan Carroll
UPI: Top elected official in tiny Texas county arrested for cattle theft; by Ben Hooper
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Inset Image Courtesy of Ralphs Fotos’ Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License