Image: Some personnel from Precinct 5 Constable David Hill’s office, June 28, 2017, left to right: Deanne Riley (receptionist), Chris Jones (Chief Deputy), Billy Masden (Captain), and Rebecca Stauth (receptionist).
Magnolia and Conroe, October 31 – Before the end of the year in 2016, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley realized he had to get his wife Deanne a job. Things had gone differently than they and their best friend Sheriff Tommy Gage had planned.
Craig Doyal had run against Malcolm Purvis in the Democratic Primary Election for Precinct 2 County Commissioner but lost. Doyal and Purvis became friendly, however. Purvis eventually hired Doyal to be his Precinct 2 Operations Manager. In 1998, Purvis and Doyal came before the Montgomery County Republican Party Candidates Committee to announce they were both switching parties to become Republicans because “we want to win.” Purvis ran and won his last election as Commissioner. Doyal ran in 2002 as a Republican and won to succeed his boss.
Meanwhile, times had been tough for Charlie Riley and Deanne Riley. They had tried to run a truck stop business in the Cleveland (Texas) area but failed miserably at it. When Charlie Riley and Deanne Riley filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on February 2, 2002, to avoid paying all of their debt obligations, their lives began an upturn for the better. Bankruptcy Judge Karen Brown of Houston granted the Rileys a discharge of all of their debts on June 27, 2002. They walked away from their creditors and began a grand new life.
When Doyal became the Precinct 2 County Commissioner on January 1, 2003, he hired Charlier Riley to be his Operations Manager. Riley worked for Doyal until January 1, 2015, when Doyal became the elected County Judge and Riley became the elected Precinct 2 County Commissioner.
Deanne Riley worked in County government jobs almost the entire time as well, enjoying the favoritism she received as the wife of the Precinct 2 Operations Manager and then County Commissioner. Deanne Riley worked for Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Gage as his secretary inside the Sheriff’s Office. Gage and Charlie Riley are very close friends.
Gage, however, decided to retire as Sheriff and not run for re-election in 2016. He had asked two of his closest deputies to run in his stead but neither of them were willing. Gage’s third choice for his successor was Captain Rand Henderson.
Gage held several lengthy conversations with Henderson about the future of the Sheriff’s Office. Gage made clear to Henderson that, if Gage were to back Henderson to become the next Sheriff, Gage expected Henderson to keep Deanne Riley on as his secretary. Deanne Riley earned $68,000 per year as Gage’s secretary along with County benefits of approximately $27,404, for total annual compensation of approximately $95,404. Pretty good wages for a high school graduate who came out of Chapter 7 bankruptcy only 14 years earlier.
Henderson gave his commitment to Gage that he’d keep Deanne Riley on as his secretary along with several other commitments.
Problems arose: Davenport, indictment, dissension
Gage has told many people that he’s very disappointed with Henderson as his successor as Sheriff. Almost as soon as Henderson became a political candidate, Gage discovered that Henderson had hired local political boss Marc Davenport to run Henderson’s campaign. Gage was not at all happy that Henderson had joined the Davenport Ring of politicians under the thumb of the corrupt shadowy political boss.
Gage accepted Henderson’s decision to hire Davenport, however, because Gage’s close friend Riley, whom the voters had elected as Precinct 2 County Commissioner in 2014, had also used Davenport for his campaign consultant. Riley never liked Davenport, as several current and former employees have confirmed, but he accepted Davenport just so he could win elections.
Riley went along with Davenport even to meet with Phonoscope CEO Lee Cook between the March 1, 2016 Republican Primary Election and June 24.
Riley’s view of Davenport changed, however, on June 24, 2016, when the Montgomery County Grand Jury indicated Riley, County Judge Craig Doyal, and Davenport as follows:
“THE GRAND JURY, for the County of Montgomery, State of Texas, duly selected, empaneled, sworn, charged, and organized as such by the 221st Judicial District Court for said County, upon their oaths present in and to said Court that Charlie Riley on or about August 11, 2015 and continuing through August 24, 2015, and before the presentment of this indictment, in the County and State aforesaid, did then and there as a member of a governmental body, to-wit: the Montgomery County Commissioner’s Court, knowingly conspire circumvent Title 5, Subtitle A Chapter 551 of the Texas Government Code (herein after referred to as the Texas Open Meetings Act) by meeting in a number less than a quorum for the purpose of secret deliberations in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act, to-wit: by engaging in verbal exchange concerning an issue within the jurisdiction of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, namely, the contents of the potential structure of a November 2015 Montgomery County Road Bond, Against the Peace and Dignity of the State.”
Riley blamed Davenport for the indictment, because Riley had had Davenport negotiate the structure of the November 2015 Montgomery County Road Bond on Riley’s behalf.
As a result, only a few months after Henderson had won election in the Republican Primary Election as Sheriff, Riley terminated his relationship with Davenport.
Henderson is extremely loyal and subservient to Davenport. Henderson clears many of Sheriff’s Office Press Releases with Davenport, according to sources inside the Sheriff’s Office. Henderson worked closely with Davenport to write the Sheriff’s Office’s “strategic plan.” Henderson won’t back a political candidate unless Davenport has approved Henderson’s doing so first. Henderson vehemently supports any Davenport-backed candidate.
After Riley fired Davenport, however, neither Davenport nor Henderson were too happy with the Precinct 2 Commissioner.
Deanne Riley was the executive assistant to Sheriff Tommy Gage who retired on December 31, 2016. Sheriff-Elect Rand Henderson made clear to all employees that everyone in his management office, with no exceptions, would need to interview for their positions. Deanne Riley opted not to participate in the interviews, so Henderson did not keep Deanne Riley as his executive assistant, despite his commitment to Gage that he would do so.
Since the Rileys have had a shaky financial situation since their 2002 bankruptcy filing, getting his wife Deanne a job in the County government became the Commissioner’s highest priority.
As a result, at the November 22, 2016, Commissioners Court meeting, Commissioner Charlie Riley placed on the agenda and made the motion for creation of a new position for a receptionist to receive $58,000 per year (an exorbitant salary for such a position) within Precinct 5 Constable David Hill’s office. Constable Hill’s office is adjacent to Charlie Riley’s Commissioner’s Precinct office in Magnolia. Hill and Riley are also good friends and political allies.
As Dodi Shaw, the County’s Human Resources Director, confirmed, Hill never posted or advertised for the new receptionist position. At the next County Commissioners Court meeting, on December 13, 2016, the Consent Agenda included a cryptic item “Approve Payroll Change Request Forms” which provided the public no notice whatsoever what it concerned. The Publisher of The Golden Hammer, however, obtained the payroll change request forms which revealed that Deanne Riley was to receive the job her husband had created only a few weeks previously. At the December 13 meeting, Riley recused himself from the vote for the payroll change requests, but his wife got the new job anyway.
Charlie and Deanne Riley successfully completed the “Charlie Riley Two-Step.” Deanne Riley got the job! Riley used his position as a County Commissioner to create the new position since her employment relationship at the Sheriff’s Department didn’t work out.
Once, Stephanne Davenport told this newspaper, “By definition, nepotism is an abuse of power.” It sure is.