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2011-04-14

Commishes won't accept sheriff's resignation? They say, \'tain't so\'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

During a departmental meeting held Monday, April 11, Bandera County Sheriff Weldon Tucker purportedly made a statement that has left other elected officials frankly baffled.
According to an anonymous source not authorized to speak for the sheriff's office, Tucker allegedly told deputies and jailers that "the commissioners wouldn't accept my resignation." Therefore, Tucker supposedly announced his impending retirement.
His retirement will purportedly take place on Thursday, May 5, the date of his next pre-trial hearing. At that time, Tucker is expected to plead guilty in open court to abuse of official capacity. The criminal case stemmed from the sheriff's alleged personal use of a so-called water rescue boat donated to Bandera County in 2007 by bail bondsman Albert Saenz.
During a pre-trial hearing on Thursday, March 31, David Glickler, special prosecutor from the Office of the Texas Attorney General, amended the state's original felony indictment against the sheriff to a Class A misdemeanor. Traditionally, in response to a lesser charge, defendants are required to plead guilty. A guilty plea would effectively remove Tucker from office and preclude him from retaining peace officer certification in the State of Texas.
According to reports, on May 5, Tucker's attorney, Charles O. Grigson of Austin, will prepare written statements for distribution to County Judge Richard Evans and the media.
During Monday's departmental meeting, Tucker also apparently relayed to law enforcement officers that a portion of his plea agreement had prevented him from "saying anything" prior to May 5. This was in addition to indicating that the commissioners had refused to accept his resignation. However, the Courier has since learned Tucker's silence had not been a prerequisite in his plea bargain.
Regarding the sheriff's assertion that commissioners court had not been inclined to accept his resignation, Evans said, "That sounds bizarre. Sheriff Tucker has never tendered a resignation."
Commissioners appeared equally as puzzled. For his part, Precinct 3 Commissioner Richard Keese declared, "I haven't heard a thing about that."
"That's the first I have heard of it," said Precinct 4 Commissioner Doug King. "If Sheriff Tucker had submitted his resignation to commissioners court, there's no way we could refuse it. We'd simply have to accept it."
An incredulous and peeved Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris noted, "The commissioners wouldn't accept his resignation? Is that what Tucker supposedly said? That's just not true. And if thinks that's what happened, tell him to give his resignation to me and I'll be more than happy to take it to the court. We'll see how that works out for him."
Precinct 1 Commissioner Bruce Eliker also asserted that he didn't know anything about the court's alleged refusal to accept Tucker's resignation.
When questioned about discussions at the meeting, Chief Deputy Richard Smith said, "It was just a regular departmental meeting. Sheriff Tucker said he wouldn't be around for the next couple of days and that an announcement would be forthcoming."
As second in command, Smith has essentially served as de facto sheriff since Tucker's legal travails began with a felony indictment in June 2010.
However, a more forthcoming source within the BCSO said, "This department remains in limbo and it has been for sometime now. This is just ridiculous. This needs be resolved now so we can move forward."