Grand Jury continues investigation into Montgomery County Precinct 2 (Riley, Doyal) corruption, as new facts show even more government property abuse

Grand Jury continues investigation into Montgomery County Precinct 2 (Riley, Doyal) corruption, as new facts show even more government property abuse

Image: Email, dated May 25, 2017, from Magnolia ISD Superintendent Todd Stephens to Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley and others in which Stephens confirms that they intend to use the school district’s Administration Building for the band practice of their private musical band which Riley uses to play at events to support his political campaign and private interests.

Conroe and Magnolia, November 3 – The Montgomery County Grand Jury heard a full day of testimony on Thursday, November 2, 2017, from witnesses in the “Trailer-Gate” scandal arising from the use by Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and County Judge Craig Doyal of County property, equipment, employees, and vehicles for political campaign and personal uses. It was the third full day of testimony. While Riley and Doyal have engaged in the use of County property for their personal purposes extensively, the practice seems to be endemic throughout the Montgomery County government in the culture of corruption which Doyal, Riley, and others have engendered.

Two current employees of Montgomery County Commissioners Precinct 2 were among the witnesses who appeared before the Grand Jury yesterday. The Grand Jury also heard testimony from a retired County employee who had worked in Precinct 2 for Riley and Doyal.

Conservative Republican activist Ginger Russell of Magnolia and conservative activist and Rand Paul associate Kelli Cook of Montgomery have conducted an extensive investigation, as private citizens, into Riley’s and Doyal’s practices. The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, began an investigation into the corruption in Commissioner’s Precinct 2 since this past spring when this newspaper uncovered the scandal involving Melissa Goetz, a former Precinct 2 employee whom Riley terminated on March 13, 2012, when Riley was then-Commissioner Doyal’s Operations Manager.

On April 17, 2012, Melissa Goetz sent a letter to Commissioner Doyal that recounted that:

  • Under Doyal’s personal direction, Goetz regularly prepared his campaign reports at the Precinct 2 office.
  • Under Doyal’s personal direction, Goetz prepared political program ads during work hours at the Precinct 2 office.
  • Under Doyal’s personal direction, Goetz prepared and mailed political checks during work hours and worked on political fundraisers during for Doyal during work hours.
  • Other county employees in Precinct 2 worked on campaign activities and fundraisers for Doyal during work hours.
  • The Precinct 2 mechanics shop built platforms during work hours for Doyal’s political fundraisers.
  • Operations Manager Charlie Riley purchased food for Doyal’s political fundraisers during county business hours.
  • Doyal approved of the use of County materials, equipment, and time to work on his campaign.
  • Charlie Riley, Melissa Goetz’s immediate supervisor, instructed Goetz to “do what you need to do to get it [Doyal’s political campaign reports] finished” including taking a county printer to Goetz’s home.

On April 24, 2017, a Liberty County jury convicted Precinct 1 Liberty County Commissioner Mike McCarty for misuse of government personnel and misuse of government property when he got county employees to do chores on his private property with county equipment. A Liberty County District Court removed McCarty from office for “official misconduct” and imposed a six month jail sentence and two years probation. McCarty was convicted of violating Section 39.02 of the Texas Penal Code, the same provision under which the Montgomery County Grand Jury is investigating Riley and Doyal, which prohibits the misuse of government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the government that has come into the public servant’s custody or possession by virtue of the public servant’s office or employment.

The latest revelations

Magnolia Independent School District Superintendent Todd Stephens and Riley have used the school district’s Administration Building to store the musical instruments and related equipment of the “Charlie Riley Band” for many years. They also use the Administration Building for practice sessions. Please see email above. Several emails, which Russell and Cook obtained over the past few days in an Open Records Act request to the school district have confirmed the nefarious practices of Stephens and Riley in that regard. The Golden Hammer conducted a survey of music studios available for lease and equipment storage. The going rate for storage of the equipment of the size of Riley’s band and for use of the storage facility for practice is between $600 and $1,200 per month. Riley and Stephens have been using the public facility in that manner for several years.

Neither Riley, Stephens, nor any one else has ever paid the school district for the storage or use of the school property. The storage and use of the Administration Building for those private and political purposes without any written agreement, indemnification, or insurance is a violation of the School District’s Policy Manual as well as Texas law.

County Judge Craig Doyal (far left), Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley (far right), and two friends, all gussied up.

“What is particularly disturbing about the use of school district property, personnel, and funds for personal and political campaign purposes is that such property and tax dollars should go towards education of children, not the personal or political coffers of elitist politicians,” said Cook.

“What is particularly disturbing about the use of school district property, personnel, and funds for personal and political campaign purposes is that such property and tax dollars should go towards education of children, not the personal or political coffers of elitist politicians,” said Cook.

Other matters under investigation

Other allegations against Doyal and Riley include:

  • For the past several years, Riley and Doyal have stored their barbecue trailers they use during political campaigns on County property in the Precinct 2 Commissioners barnyard in Magnolia behind a locked and gated fence. Riley and Doyal have not paid the County anything for the use of that storage space.
  • Precinct 2 employees have confirmed that Riley and Doyal have had County employees provide automotive repairs and vehicle maintenance to members of Riley’s and Doyal’s families at no charge to them.
  • Riley and Doyal had the Building Maintenance Department install plumbing and electrical connections at the Precinct 2 barnyard so they could cook there for their political campaigns.
  • On September 14, 2017, Riley admitted in writing, “As far as the County yard storing my personal cooking trailer, that is correct.”
  • On October 13, 2017, Riley, his wife Deanne who is a County employee in the position Riley established for her, and several County employees spent a large portion of the County work day making preparations for his political campaign kickoff the next day.
  • On October 14, 2017, Riley, Stephens, and at least two Magnolia ISD maintenance workers loaded a Magnolia ISD truck at the Magnolia ISD Administration Building with Riley’s personal band equipment stored at the Administration Building for free. The school district employees then transported the equipment to the site of Riley’s political campaign kickoff, unloaded the equipment, participated in Riley’s campaign presentation, loaded the equipment back onto the school district truck, transported it back to the Administration Building, and unloaded the equipment with Riley and Stephens there to help with the unloading and re-storage of the equipment.
  • On October 14, 2017, Riley utilized some County-owned electrical carts as a “train” to carry passengers attending Riley’s campaign kickoff from where they parked to the site of the event. On October 15, 2017, the carts were back in the Commissioners Precinct 2 barnyard behind the locked and gated fence.

In an exclusive interview, Russell told The Golden Hammer, “The one thing I detest is a liar. It is evident that Riley is a habitual liar. After it became known he used the Magnolia ISD Maintenance truck to haul his band equipment, he stated the following ‘I had nothing to do with that and I didn’t have any equipment in the truck and I wasn’t in the truck.’ Riley was there when the truck was loaded and he helped load the truck that evening upon returning to the administration building. Someone like Riley that lies to the public to cover his own behind does not deserve to be in office. He is crooked as they come and needs to resign.”

Russell and Cook caught it on video and in photographs the incidents where Riley, Stephens, and two Magnolia ISD employees were loading and unloading the privately-owned musical equipment into and from the school district vehicle and into the school district Administration Building on October 14, 2017. Riley admitted as much in a videotaped presentation he made on Saturday, October 14.

The usually soft-spoken Russell added, “From all appearances there is a pattern of taxpayer abuse by Commissioner Riley and Judge Doyal from storing their personal trailers on county property to Riley utilizing Magnolia ISD resources and employees for his campaign event. This abuse must be stopped.”

Cook, the activist who is almost single-handedly responsible for passage of the 20% homestead exemption which the County government approved earlier this year, despite initial resistance from Riley, Doyal, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, added, “I don’t think Magnolia ISD should be picking favorites in a Commissioners race. It’s wrong to spend taxpayer dollars to support a criminally-indicted commissioner. People are paying very high property taxes and school taxes, and I’m sure they didn’t intend to support band practice and political fundraisers with their tax dollars.”

Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley.

 

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