Local Sheriff Works to Dispel Allegations - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/5/04 - Tyler

Local Sheriff Works to Dispel Allegations

The Smith County Sheriff vows to put an end to allegations his department sold federal surplus property to the public. This comes in response to new allegations from a former Smith County inmate who claims items he helped pick up were later sold at a flea market. 29-year-old Brad Hanks of Tyler gave a statement January 14 while in the custody of the Wood County Sheriff's Department that said, around November of 2000, he and three other inmates were taken to an Air Force base in Little Rock, Arkansas to pick up various surplus equipment. The items were then brought back and sorted at the Smith County work farm. Hanks claims several items were then taken to the East Texas State Fairgrounds, where, he says, they were sold to the public.

"This not a new letter," said acting Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham.  "The Texas Rangers have had it. The Texas Attorney General's Office had it and the Texas Attorney General's Office had the letter when they declined to initiate an investigation."

After the Attorney General's Office declined to investigate, Bingham sent the letter to Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith, who began an investigation of his own.

"I don't see any credibility in what this guy is saying," said Smith.  "He has been arrested, he's been in our jail 19 times. He's been to the Texas Department of Corrections on more than one occassion. They're looking for him now on a warrant for his arrest, so I put very little credibility in his statement, and evidently the Texas Rangers didn't either, nor did the Attorney General's Office, but I think I'll go ahead and look into it just for myself."

Smith does admit that some of his employees have probably sold items at the East Texas State Fairgrounds, but that it was their own personal property that was sold... Not federal surplus.

"We have found absolutely no evidence of this," said Smith. "But, I want to check every little detail and I want to do that for myself."

The sheriff plans to interview everyone named in the allegation and pass all of the information along to the Texas Rangers and Texas Attorney General's Office. We contacted the East Texas State Fairgrounds today concerning records that may show the sheriff's department sold items there in November of 2000. General Manager Alice Emmons said no records concerning individual vendors are kept by her agency.

Kevin berns reporting  kberns@kltv.com 

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