Ross trial gets 4th date

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, July 13, 2013

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Another trial date has been set for suspended Wise County Precinct 4 Commissioner Terry Ross.

Terry Ross

Terry Ross

On Monday, Sept. 23, he is scheduled to be tried for tampering with governmental records, theft of $500 to $1,500 by a public servant, and abuse of official capacity greater than $20 and less than $500.

The trial has already been delayed three times, most recently from April 23 when District Attorney Greg Lowery recused himself and his office from the case after being reminded that he represented Ross in a criminal matter 16 years ago.

District Judge Roger Towery will hear the case that is being prosecuted by Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Robert Gill. Ross will be represented by Fort Worth attorney Jerry Loftin.

The commissioner was indicted in May 2012 for tampering with government records and abuse of official capacity for allegedly building a playhouse on public property, using county employees on county time, and using supplies purchased with county money.

The playhouse was seized from Ross’ home Feb. 7, 2012, as part of an investigation that started in late 2011.

Towery suspended Ross without pay in August 2012 until the outcome of his criminal trial, which was then scheduled to start Oct. 30.

On Oct. 22 Ross was 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.

After that charge was filed, his trial was moved from Oct. 30 to Feb. 19. It was pushed back to the April 23 date before being moved once again, this time to fall 2013.

If Ross is convicted, he would face two to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000 for tampering with governmental records, a second-degree felony. The theft charge is a state jail felony with a punishment of 180 days to two years in jail as well as a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Abuse of official capacity is a Class B misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 180 days in county jail and a fine up to $2,000.

If Ross is found not guilty, he will resume office, and the county will be required to award him back pay for the entire time he was suspended.

As of Friday, that amount came to $91,791.57.

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