Affidavit: Payne Springs officers used informant to buy, sell drugs

An arrest affidavit sheds new light on the arrests of Payne Springs’ police chief and a police officer after both were arrested on drug charges.
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 12:03 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2023 at 1:15 PM CST
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HENDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - An arrest affidavit sheds new light on the arrests of Payne Springs’ police chief and a police officer after both were arrested on drug charges.

According to the affidavit, in February the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office obtained information from a confidential informant pertaining to the alleged actions by Payne Springs Police Chief April Meadows and Officer Jonathan Hutchison. The informant, who had been working under the premise of assisting in a narcotics investigation, said they became suspicious that the actions by Meadows and Hutchison were not legitimate.

The affidavit states that the informant was first introduced to Hutchison in 2021 and would make controlled buys for him when Hutchison still worked as a narcotics investigator for the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office. Then, in 2022, Hutchison and Meadows asked if the informant would begin making purchases of methamphetamines. The informant told investigators it was at this time that Meadows became much more involved in coordinating the purchase, receiving of and payment for the product purchases.

According to the affidavit, the informant said they made an estimated 20 or 30 “controlled buys” for Hutchison and Meadows, though the informant was never met with Hutchison and Meadows prior to the buys, nor did they meet for a direct delivery immediately afterward. In order to deliver the narcotics, the informant said they would sometimes deliver packages to a mailbox inside a gated community on Highway 175. However, in some instances, the informant said they would meet at the Payne Springs Police Department and would observe Meadows place the drugs inside a bag, which would then be sealed and marked as “EVIDENCE.”

The informant said that payment for their services was rendered in cash, though the affidavit states that sometimes Meadows and Hutchison would pay them via CashApp or even provide an amount of marijuana as payment. The informant said the use of marijuana as payment seemed odd, but it was allegedly explained that marijuana was now legal.

The affidavit indicates that Hutchison and Meadows were concerned about the quality of the narcotics the informant was purchasing. In one instance described, Hutchison told the informant that the last two deliveries were “too weak” or “trash,” and that the informant would need to get rid of or sell the narcotics, find better narcotics to turn in or return the money. Eventually, the informant said, they were directed to begin purchasing methamphetamine, and it was at this point, the affidavit states, that the informant began questioning the legitimacy of Hutchison and Meadows’ actions.

Eventually the informant began to work for the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office and, at the direction of Sheriff Botie Hillhouse, began to make controlled purchases and deliveries of methamphetamine, as well as money exchanges, to corroborate the provided information. This led to the informant making multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine in February, which the affidavit states were delivered to a Payne Springs Police Department mailbox at the direction of Meadows. The informant stated they were paid via CashApp for these purchases.

The affidavit states that in February and March the informant was provided with amounts of methamphetamine to sell. This methamphetamine was delivered to the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, who then provided cash to act as the expected payment. Cash in the amount of $325 was then delivered by the informant to the Payne Springs Police Department in an envelope with April Meadows’ name on it, via placement in the night time payment box at Payne Springs City Hall at Meadows’ instruction.

On another occasion, the affidavit states the informant provided methamphetamine to Hutchison and Meadows while inside the impound lot of the Payne Springs Police Department.

The affidavit states that investigators obtained information about Hutchison’s personal bank records, which show he used his personal CashApp account to pay the informant a total of $3,000. Likewise, Meadows’ personal bank records also show her personal CashApp account was used to pay the informant more than $1,800. Cell phone text message data was also obtained, which the affidavit states corroborates information provided by the informant.

Hutchison and Meadows were arrested on Thursday but have since been transferred from the Henderson County Jail to the Van Zandt County Jail and Smith County Jail, respectively.

Two Payne Springs officers arrested for selling and distributing narcotics collected as evidence.

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