Texas Rangers execute warrant on Smith County Constable's office - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


4 in custody after Rangers execute warrant on constable's office

Lt. Thomas Burns. Photo Source: File Video. Lt. Thomas Burns. Photo Source: File Video.
Constable Dustin Rust. Photo Source: File Video. Constable Dustin Rust. Photo Source: File Video.
Monty Dee Ward Jr. Photo Source: Smith County Jail. Monty Dee Ward Jr. Photo Source: Smith County Jail.
Mark Alan Pierce. Photo Source: Smith County Jail. Mark Alan Pierce. Photo Source: Smith County Jail.
Justin Layne Stockwell. Photo Source: Smith County Jail. Justin Layne Stockwell. Photo Source: Smith County Jail.

UPDATE: We spoke with County Judge Joel Baker tonight in regards to our question regarding the vehicle policy. He sent us the vehicle policy and it states, "Only County officials/employees, duly commissioned reserve officers authorized by the County Sheriff or Constable, or officers assigned to special operations and/or task force units approved by Commissioners Court are authorized to drive a county vehicle." It also states under personal use, "at no time may a County vehicle be used for personal gain or personal business."



Four Smith County Deputy Constables have been arrested after Texas Rangers executed a search warrant at the Smith County Constable Precinct Three office Monday morning.

Deputy Constables Monty Ward, Thomas Burns, Mark Pierce, and Justin Stockwell will all be charged with operating a private security company without a license, a Class A misdemeanor.

Ward, Pierce, and Stockwell have already been arrested and charged, booked, and released from custody.

Burns was expected to turn himself in to the Smith County Jail sometime Monday, but we're told authorities picked Burns up Monday afternoon.

Constable Dustin Rust says the charged deputies will all be suspended.

Rust says investigators took some documents involving off-duty employment.

"We are cooperating with the investigation and I am looking at it administratively as well," said Rust.

Smith County Judge Joel Baker says a county commissioner heard rumors alleging that Precinct 3 Constable Dustin Rust was using county fuel to work a private, security job patrolling The Woods neighborhood in Tyler.

Baker says the county obtained the minutes from The Woods Garden Club meetings that corroborated allegations that Rust and at least one of his officers were working a security job for the neighborhood.

Although the county says a formal complaint against Rust was never filed, Baker says the county had to exercise due diligence by looking into the alleged matter. 

On May 25, 2011, Baker says Rust formally requested more fuel funding at a county commissioners meeting.

The county says the issue in question is if Rust or one of his officers used county fuel to work an off-duty job, patrolling The Woods neighborhood.

Baker says it's not against county policy to use a county-issued vehicle as a means of transportation to work a private, off-duty job. However, Baker says in this case, the off-duty job requires the officer to patrol the area for several hours. Baker says the concern here is if county fuel was used to patrol The Woods neighborhood.

According to Baker, additional questions were raised regarding the legality of Rust's security services, namely if there is a written contract between Rust and the neighborhood.

Rust says he never made a contract with The Woods neighborhood. He says his officers were only patrolling the area in an off-duty capacity.

Chuck Stanley, who's a board member of The Woods Garden Club also says there's not a written contract between Rust and the neighborhood. Stanley says Rust rarely patrolled the area.

According to records from the neighborhood's board meeting posted online, Lt. Thomas Burns with the Precinct 3 Constable's office did majority of the patrolling.

Stanley says checks were made out personally to Burns and sent to his home address. He says payments were never sent directly to the Precinct 3 Constable's Office.

According to online records, during a board of directors special meeting held on June 10, 2010, a proposal was made to hire Constable Dustin Rust to patrol the area from 10:00 p.m. to 5 a.m. seven nights a week at a rate of $30 per hour. After a short discussion among board members, it was voted to hire Rust from June 11 to July 5, 2010, according to records.

Later, board members voted to scale back the security to five nights a week, at a rate of $292 per week, according to records.

Records from the board's meeting indicate that on December 15, 2011, the Texas Rangers issued The Woods Garden Club a subpoena to provide any contracts or records that pertain to Dustin Rust, including billing statements. 

Rust says his officers used their personal vehicles and purchased their gas to patrol The Woods neighborhood.

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