An Azle man pressed his luck a little too far when he resorted to stealing metal from oilfield well sites to fund his gambling addiction.In December 2010, David G. Watson, 50, of Azle, stole more than 600 brass camlocks from scores of oilfield sites scattered across Wise and Denton counties.
On Tuesday afternoon, he told a Wise County jury he took the metal to fund a gambling addiction. He’d already plead guilty but went before the jury for sentencing. The jury responded by giving Watson a 10-year prison sentence for theft. He faced a range of two to 20 years for the crime.
“He said he had an addictive personality,” said Wise County District Attorney Greg Lowery. “At one point he was addicted to meth. He used to be an alcoholic. His new addiction was gambling. He had delusions of becoming a professional poker player.”
Watson knew the locations of the oilfields and how to gain access to them because he’d worked for years as tank truck driver in oilfield services. His gambling addiction grew so bad he’d spend days at Winstar Casino, then show up late and tired for work. He was eventually fired.
He then turned to metal theft to fund his gambling problem, he told jurors.
He was brutally honest about his transgressions with the law.
“I believe he was the most honest defendant I’ve ever seen on the witness stand,” Lowery said.
Watson got caught when investigators tracked down the stolen camlocks to a metal recycling business in Fort Worth. The devices weigh about 3 pounds each and cost about $30 apiece. He sold them all for about $2,500.
“They were all sitting in some boxes ready to go to China to be recycled,” said Assistant District Attorney Jay Latham.
State law requires people who sell scrap metal to show identification. It has also made any theft of metal a state jail felony rather than a simple theft charge. Although the punishment for a state jail felony conviction is normally 180 days to two years, Watson’s was enhanced due to two prior felony convictions.
He was convicted in 1991 of being an accomplice in a liquor store robbery in Houston. He was found guilty in 2004 in Tarrant County for possessing chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine.
His defense attorney Paul Belew brought forth character witnesses to testify on Watson’s behalf.
“They said he was good-hearted,” Latham said.
Watson has been in Wise County Jail since February.