County Commissioners Ask For Probe Into Sheriff's Department - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/12/04 - Smith County

County Commissioners Ask For Probe Into Sheriff's Department

What's happened to the missing surplus federal property donated to the Smith County Sheriff's department?

That's what County Commissioners are trying to find out.

They voted 3-1-1 today to ask District Attorney Matt Bingham, to ask the Attorney General's office to get involved.

The discussion over the property began in December. That's when commissioners tried to figure out if housing federal prisoners in exchange for a fee and some surplus property was worth it.

Smith County Sheriff J.B Smith says many of the items donated from the federal government are unusable, and were discarded.

Commissioners say, either way, the Sheriff's Department should account for them.

A probe by Texas Rangers this past summer led a grand jury to find no laws were broken.

County Judge Becky Dempsey says that investigation didn't go far enough.

"I do not believe that that particular investigation was a full blown investigation of missing surplus property," she said. "I can't say unequivocally what the correct procedure but I do know this, that there is enough question for this court to have called for acting district attorney to look into the matter."

Sheriff Smith says his office is open to any sort of investigation.

"Sure we welcome any kind of investigation that they want to do and our records are open and we'll cooperate 100% which is what we've always done."

The decision whether another investigation into this matter will occur is still up in the air. Bingham says he would like more evidence provided to him by commissioners before making a decision.

He says the previous Texas Ranger investigation was thorough.

Chris Gibson, reporting
cgibson@kltv.com

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