Accusations Surround Former East Texas Environmental Crimes Officer - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/24/07-Smith County

Accusations Surround Former East Texas Environmental Crimes Officer

He has appeared on KLTV 7 News several times, investigating environmental crimes in East Texas.  He's the face many people see when you hear the words "Trashing East Texas".  Friday, allegations surfaced around former Smith County Environmental Crimes Investigator Danny Brasher.  His former department said Brasher never filed entire cases with the District Attorney's Office, and now evidence in connection to those cases are missing.  

For five years, Brasher has been working environmental crimes in Smith County.  Many of his cases have been featured on KLTV 7's Trashing East Texas series.  Recently Brasher resigned from his duties, taking a job with Smith County's Adult Probation Office.

"When I left there, I left there with mixed emotions," said Brasher.  "I didn't really want to leave, but I could no longer take care of myself and family on the salary and there was political pressure.  I had worked so hard to bring honor and integrity to that office." 

Brasher's former supervisor, Smith County Constable Dennis Taylor, said Brasher's integrity now needs to be questioned.  Taylor said his department is missing four of Brasher's former case files, three of which were never filed with the District Attorney's Office.

"It upsets me because you've got people in limbo that have been arrested, handcuffed, put in patrol cars with TV watching and there are no cases on them," said Taylor. 

One of those cases involved a horse dumping ground last December that was quickly named "The Boneyard".  John Ruffin, 82, was then arrested after authorities said he had been disposing dead horses for local veterinarians.  Brasher said when he first filed the case with the DA's Office, he was told he did not have enough weight evidence.  That's when Brasher said he used community service volunteers to weigh the dumped material.

"During this entire process, I was photographing this from the time the trailer was empty until it was weighed, and then the case was re-submitted," said Brasher.  "What happened since then I don't know.  When I left there, the case was on my desk, it had all the information in it."

That same case took Brasher out of the spot light, when Taylor says he would no longer allow Brasher to talk to the media.

"I was very upset with him," said Taylor.  "The Ruffin's case was done wrong.  Ruffins was being cooperative and worked with us and told us where he got every animal, how many animals he had there.  And on the 5th day he (Brasher) calls all the press, you all come out.  I'm going to handcuff him, an 82 year old man and throw him in the back of a patrol car." 

Brasher said he was just trying to do his job and would have no reason to get rid of his case files.

"This just hurts so much," said Brasher.  "It really breaks my heart because I put so much into that job." 

The Smith County District Attorney's Office was not available for comment Friday. Constable Dennis Taylor said next week he will be asking for a full investigation from the DA's office on Brasher and the environmental crimes unit.

Molly Reuter, Reporting.


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