Image: Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon.
Conroe, April 4 – Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon blasted the ethics of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, particularly lame duck Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and embattled Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley. “As a separate matter from the result of the criminal investigation, speaking for myself, the Commissioners Court appears to be bereft of a moral compass. ‘Chicanery’ is such a great word to describe them, because it deals with political obfuscation in dealing with the public. I join with MCLEA [the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Association] in believing it’s time for a change. They have a good County Attorney and they fail to listen to his advice. As long as their activity is constantly skirting the criminal law, they’re going to be investigated and their activity is going to be brought into question,” Ligon told The Golden Hammer in an exclusive interview yesterday afternoon.
“As a separate matter from the result of the criminal investigation, speaking for myself, the Commissioners Court appears to be bereft of a moral compass. ‘Chicanery’ is such a great word to describe them, because it deals with political obfuscation in dealing with the public. I join with MCLEA [the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Association] in believing it’s time for a change. They have a good County Attorney and they fail to listen to his advice. As long as their activity is constantly skirting the criminal law, they’re going to be investigated and their activity is going to be brought into question.” – – – Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon
Ligon made the announcement that the Montgomery County Grand Jury’s term has expired with respect to the investigation of the charges which conservative Republican activist and GOP Precinct Chair Ginger Russell brought with respect to Riley, Doyal, and others who are working with them.
Ligon added, “The last thing that the men and women of the law enforcement community want to do is continue to have to investigate elected officials all the time. The leadership we have on this Commissioners Court is pretty thin.”
“The leadership we have on this Commissioners Court is pretty thin.” – – – Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon
The District Attorney’s Office confirmed that the Grand Jury did not reach any indictment before its term expired. Russell filed the charges in mid-October, 2017.
Of Russell, Ligon commented, “I find Ginger Russell a hardworking, decent lady, who is obviously very concerned with her community. We looked into the information. All people like that need to bring forward information of that nature to us. We should all appreciate what Mrs. Russell did.”
Tyler Dunman, Chief of the Special Crimes Bureau of the District Attorney’s Office, said, “The citizens of Montgomery County have a right to expect public servants to perform their duties in a lawful and ethical manner. The Public Integrity Division of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office is committed to the investigation and prosecution of public servants who violate both the trust of those they represent and the laws of the State of Texas.”
Dunman said in the District Attorney’s Office’s press release,
“Beginning in August of 2017, the Public Integrity Division received complaints regarding the alleged misuse of county resources by Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley. In addition to Judge Doyal and Commissioner Riley, the complaints implicated public officials employed by and serving on the school board of the Magnolia Independent School District. Each of these complaints was evaluated for potential criminal law violations, and a thorough investigation into the alleged misconduct was initiated.
“The Texas Ranger Division of the Department of Public Safety assisted with the process of gathering and evaluating evidence. After numerous witness interviews and a review of countless governmental records, the investigation of Judge Doyal and Commissioner Riley is concluded. The term of a Montgomery County grand jury was extended until March 31, 2018, but no indictment was returned in this investigation. While grand jury proceedings and deliberations are confidential, generally speaking, a grand jury may decide to take no action in an investigation because the evidence does not rise to the level of probable cause, certain defenses to criminal conduct are applicable, or the statute of limitations prevents moving forward on the criminal conduct.
“Regardless of the outcome of this investigation, the District Attorney’s office is committed to sharing publicly available information with county leadership in an effort to improve accountability and strengthen public confidence in government.
“The Public Integrity Division not only receives cases from local law enforcement agencies, but also from citizens who submit complaints of misconduct against public officials. Every complaint is reviewed by the Public Integrity Division and a determination is made as to whether or not the alleged misconduct is a violation of criminal law. The Public Integrity Division evaluates and investigates these potential criminal offenses with the assistance of other law enforcement agencies and Montgomery County grand juries. A public integrity investigation may result in initiation of a criminal case; a determination that misconduct did not occur or did not rise to the level of a criminal violation; or a determination that prosecution has become barred by the applicable statute of limitations.” (Emphasis added.)
The Golden Hammer has confirmed that more than a dozen witnesses testified before the Grand Jury. While the investigation uncovered substantial wrongdoing, applicable statutes of limitation might have barred criminal indictments from proceeding.
Russell concluded, “I’m disappointed in the outcome, but I appreciate the reprimand that Mr. Ligon has issued, and I hope that Commissioner Riley, Judge Doyal, and those who act in concert with them will pay attention to what he said.”
Both Riley and Doyal remain under criminal indictment for official misconduct in the form of alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act. If convicted, they would be removed from office under Chapter 87 of the Texas Local Government Code.