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Ross pleads to a lesser charge

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Suspended Wise County Commissioner Terry Ross plead guilty in district court Monday morning to abuse of official capacity greater than $20 and less than $500, a Class B misdemeanor.

The other two charges, which are both felonies — tampering with governmental records and theft of $500 to $1,500 by a public servant — were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

The agreement also included a suspended sentence of 180 days in jail. Ross will instead serve one year probation and pay $500 restitution.

Ross’ attorney, Jerry Loftin, was pleased with the outcome.

“It’s a misdemeanor, and that’s all there ever really was anyway,” he said. “It’s a misdemeanor, one step above a traffic ticket.”

Prosecutor Robert Gill, Tarrant County assistant district attorney, said “an agreement was reached that the evidence supported.”

Ross will remain suspended until a civil hearing can be set to determine his future. If he had been convicted of one of the felony charges, he would have been automatically removed.

The case was heard by District Judge Roger Towery of Clay County. Read more in the midweek Messenger on newsstands Wednesday.