Smith County DA candidate Putman calls audit results lies and half truths

Smith County DA candidate Putman calls audit results lies and half truths
Smith County Assistant D.A. Jacob Putman holds presser (Source: KLTV Staff)
Smith County Assistant D.A. Jacob Putman holds presser (Source: KLTV Staff)
Smith County Assistant D.A. Jacob Putman holds presser (Source: KLTV Staff)
Smith County Assistant D.A. Jacob Putman holds presser (Source: KLTV Staff)
Smith County Assistant D.A. Jacob Putman holds presser (Source: KLTV Staff)

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County Assistant District Attorney Jacob Putman broke his silence Monday morning after an audit found that he, along with eight other prosecutors, violated internal policy numerous times.

Monday morning, Putman spoke to nearly two dozen people during a press conference at the Smith County Courthouse "at no time did I ever believe I was violating policy."

Smith County District Attorney's Office policy states prosecutors must seek either the signature of the district attorney or the first assistant district attorney when dismissing a felony case. According to the audit, Putman filed 48 cases without seeking a co-signature, since 2013.

Putman called the audit's results "lies and half-truths," and an "attempt to smear his reputation."

"I believe it's shameful that someone who calls himself a leader to claim that every one of his prosecutors went rogue... not a single person on that list deserves to be thrown under the bus so that Matt Bingham can save face for the media," said Putman.

Putnam has vowed to make his personnel file available for review to show he was never reprimanded or disciplined in the 9 years he has been in office and says attacks on his record are "dirty politics at their worst."

"Bingham let a 5-time felon out on probation and that felon later shot and nearly killed a Tyler police officer," said Putman as he was describing several different cases, involving different people, to provide examples of how they were handled by the D.A.'s office, and signed off on by Bingham.

Putman and the district attorney's office have been under public scrutiny since a December 2017 shooting of Texas Department of Public Trooper Damon Allen. The man charged in that case, Dabrett Black, had previous cases in East Texas where he allegedly assaulted law enforcement officers.

In March of 2016, Black was charged in the beating of a Smith County deputy. Without a co-signature, the audit found that Putman signed off on a plea deal which dismissed one charge against Black and put him in jail for a year.

At a Jan. 25 "meet the candidate" event, Putman said he was still reviewing the audit, while his opponent said she was angry to see what it revealed.

In a letter emailed to supporters Thursday night, Putman told his supporters, "Some of you may have read or seen various news reports or articles claiming some pretty outlandish things, all designed in a desperate attempt to attack my character and integrity, and to somehow paint me as unqualified."

Putman alleged the information was purposely released to coincide with him being in court.

"This information was purposely released to coincide with me being in trial this week, knowing I would be consumed with the trial and unable to fully respond until I have time to pour over the information and analyze the evidence, just like I do every day as a prosecutor for the citizens of Smith County. The establishment and their willing accomplices in the media then demanded an immediate response, even though I released a statement that I would respond once I had reviewed the material.  This tactic was designed to make me look weak and/or guilty," Putman wrote.

Read more on that case and the full letter from Putman here.

According to Putman the policies of the DA's office have changed "many times" since 2006.

"Our DA's office will have crystal clear policies," Putman promised as the conference came to a close.

Today District Attorney's Office Matt Bingham was on hand for the press conference and responded.

"Instead of accepting responsibility for what he'd done, instead of apologizing to Casey Zuniga and Casey Allen, trooper Allen's widow," D.A. Bingham said. "His focus has been to shift blame, always have an excuse and i think his letter that he sent out speaks volumes about him and his character."

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