Suspended Precinct 4 County Commissioner Terry Ross turned himself in at the Wise County Sheriff’s Office Monday after a warrant was issued for his arrest Oct. 18.Ross is charged with theft of $500 to $1,500 by a public servant for allegedly building three grubbing plows, two for personal use. The plows were built with material belonging to the county, on county time by county employees, according to the arrest warrant affidavit filed in County Court-at-Law No. 1.
Ross posted a $10,000 bond Monday and was released. His former foreman, Roy Teague, was arrested Friday on the same charge, which is a state jail felony. Teague was released Saturday after posting $10,000 bond.
If convicted, Ross and Teague could face 180 days to two years in jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000. Both were already awaiting trial on previous felony charges stemming from similar incidents involving county property and employees.
“What are they going to indict him for next? Allegedly stealing paper clips?” said Ross’ attorney Barry Green in an email to the Messenger.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Ross brought his father-in-law’s grubbing plow to the Precinct 4 barn in December 2011 and used it as a pattern to build three new grubbing plows.
One new plow was left at the barn, but Ross allegedly gave one of the new plows to his father-in-law, Billy Joe Shepherd, in exchange for providing the pattern. On Aug. 28, District Attorney Investigator Wes Wallace confiscated the plow at the county barn but did not find the third plow.On Sept. 4, Wallace interviewed Teague, who confirmed that the three plows were built at the Precinct 4 barn with material belonging to the county and by county employees on county time. He said he took home one of the plows.
“Teague stated that the plow he took home was on his property in a ‘junk pile’ because it didn’t work the way it should have,” the affidavit says.
Wallace also interviewed Joe Michael Shepherd, son of Billy Joe Shepherd. The younger Shepherd told the same story – that in exchange for using his father’s grubbing plow as a pattern, Ross built his father a new plow.
The affidavit says Wallace showed Joe Shepherd a picture of the grubbing plow from the Precinct 4 barn, and “Joe Shepherd advised that it looked like the same plow that his father, Billy Shepherd, had been storing on his property.”
According to the affidavit, Joe Shepherd did say that sometime during the last three months, the grubbing plow had disappeared.
At Wallace’s request, Elite Metal Fabrications in Newark estimated the cost to build a plow similar to those built in the Precinct 4 barn would be $850, which includes materials and labor.
Wallace discovered the information about the grubbing plows while working on another investigation, in which Ross is accused of theft by a public servant and abuse of official capacity.
He was indicted on those charges in May and was temporarily suspended in August. His trial in that case was scheduled to start next week but has now been pushed back to January.
This is the second theft charge on Teague in as many months. He was arrested Sept. 4 and charged with theft of more than $500 and less than $1,500 by a public servant, which stemmed from the alleged sale of a scrapped pneumatic roller. He retired from the county July 21.
When Wallace learned of the allegations regarding the grubbing plows, he notified Texas Ranger James Hicks, who filed both arrest warrants last week.