Federal, state officials investigating Brown Co. attorney's donation program
BROWN COUNTY, Texas - A former high ranking Brown County law officer says the current county attorney is involved in corruption and bribery under the guise of a program to provide lenient sentences for minor offenses.
Federal and state officials are conducting an investigation into the office of county attorney Shane Britton.
On June 14, Brown County Auditor Jennifer Robison asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office for an opinion on Britton's donation program and whether he abused his power by taking donations.
The program allows suspects in misdemeanor cases to pay the county attorney a fee for a lenient sentence as part of a pre-trial diversion instead of going to a judge. The attorney general's opinion is expected soon.
"It was so bizarre, I thought there had to have been more to the story," former Brown County Chief Deputy Bobby Duvall said on Tuesday.
He said the Brown County Sheriff's Office began investigating Britton's program in 2014.
"They'd get arrested on drug charges, DWI's, assaults, et cetera, and their case would be completely wiped off the books, if they'd had given a donation," Duvall said.
Duvall spent 11 years as chief deputy until he retired last year.
He said the sheriff's office handed the case over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Texas Rangers, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas.
"How the law was manipulated to create this scheme, I believe if people knew that, they would be appalled at the level of corruption that was going on," he said.
Duvall credited Brown County resident Joe Cooksey for bringing it to their attention. The former school teacher considers himself a watchdog of local government.
"We have clear records that they'd pay the money," Cooksey said about the donation program. "We have the receipts and the money never showed up in the county treasury."
Cooksey ran unsuccessfully for Brown County judge in 2010, but said that this isn't a vendetta.
"It goes back to that one word … it's called accountability," he said. "Shane Britton answers to the public and everyone else who lives in this community."
KTXS reached out to Brown County Attorney Shane Britton for comment, but didn't hear back from him.
KTXS also asked 35 th Judicial District Judge Steve Ellis for comment, but he said he couldn't speak on the matter because it is an ongoing criminal investigation being done by state and federal officials.