Appeals court reinstates indictment against Jefferson County Sheriff – Beaumont Enterprise



An appeals court in Houston has overturned a Chambers County court order to void one count of an indictment against Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens.

Stephens was indicted in April 2018 on state charges of accepting excessive cash contributions from the owner of a Beaumont car dealership who was under a federal investigation.

The sheriff told The Enterprise Thursday night that she maintains her innocence.


“Nothing has really changed for us,” she said. “If they won, we were going to appeal it. If we won, we knew they would appeal it. We always expected it to go to the Texas Supreme Court and that is probably where it will go. This is just one issue. This is the venue issue on whether the AG’s office had jurisdiction. I don’t believe I did anything wrong. We are prepared for a long battle.”



In February 2019, state District Judge Randy McDonald of Chambers County granted attorneys’ request to quash a charge of tampering with a government document, one of the three charges brought against Stephens last year.

She still faces two misdemeanors.

Stephens, sheriff’s Deputy Joe “QB” Stevenson and former Beaumont police Lt. Ray Beck were also indicted in April 2018 for allegedly accepting thousands of dollars in illegal cash campaign contributions during the 2016 sheriff’s race.


The indictments came after all three were accused of accepting money from Daylight Motors owner Larry Tillery, who has since been convicted of tax evasion and laundering connected to an illegal gambling operation, according to federal court records.


Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office said federal investigators alerted state authorities of the alleged violations after an unrelated investigation.

“This is another step on Sheriff Stephens journey for justice,” Russell Wilson, Stephens’ lawyer said. “We are going to continue battling these issues.”


chris.moore@beaumontenterprise.com



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