NEWS HEADLINES

Ross ruling expected Wednesday

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Suspended Wise County Commissioner Terry Ross Wednesday will be either permanently removed from office or granted a jury trial.

Terry Ross

Terry Ross

District Judge Roger Towery is scheduled to rule on Wise County Attorney James Stainton’s Nov. 21, 2013 request for a summary judgment in the civil suit regarding Ross’ removal.

The original petition for removal was filed by retired Texas Ranger Lane Akin in the 271st District Court in June 2012, after Ross was indicted for tampering with government records and abuse of official capacity. In the months following the original petition, Ross was also indicted for theft of $500 to $1,500.

All of these charges were tied to the construction of a playhouse for his grandchildren in the Precinct 4 barn.

Towery temporarily suspended Ross without pay in August 2012. Following several delays in the criminal proceedings, the commissioner eventually pleaded guilty Sept. 23, 2013 to abuse of official capacity, a misdemeanor. The other two charges, both felonies, were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

He was also required to make restitution of $500 and sentenced to 180 days in jail, probated for one year.

If Towery grants Ross a jury trial and the jury were to reinstate the commissioner, the county would be required to pay Ross for the time he was suspended. As of March 15, it totaled $146,453.12.

If Towery removes Ross from office, it would be for the duration of his current term, which ends Dec. 31, 2014. It would not prohibit him from seeking the office again.

Ross finished third among three candidates for the Republican nomination for his old job in the March 4 primary, effectively eliminating him from contention in this November’s election.

As of press time Tuesday, it was unknown if Towery planned to issue a ruling in the 271st District Courtroom or from his office in Henrietta. His decision will be posted on wcmessenger.com as soon as it’s released.

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