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Charges dropped against three Upshur County Officials

Charges dropped against three Upshur County Officials
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POSTED: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 2:47pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 2:50pm

An attorney Tuesday dropped all charges against three elected Upshur County officials.

Judges Richard Davis and Diane DeVasco signed orders dropping all cases against Upshur County Sheriff Anthony Betterton and Commissioner Lloyd Crabtree after prosecuting attorney Rick Hagan filed motions to dismiss. Hagan has also filed a motion to dismiss the final pending charge against County Judge Dean Fowler. An order is awaiting Davis' signature and is expected to be finalized Tuesday afternoon.

District Attorney Billy Byrd indicted the three officials in December 2010 after a man was removed from a Commissioners Court meeting for wearing duct tape over his mouth to protest that public comment had been taken off of agendas.

Hagan dropped charges of official oppression, abuse of official capacity and gift to a public servant filed against Crabtree. He dropped charges of official oppression and gift to a public servant against Betterton. He also filed a motion to dismiss a charge he brought against Fowler for violation of section 171.004 of the local government code.

Davis in October found Fowler not guilty of official oppression and subsequently dropped Fowler's charge of abuse of official capacity.

In his motions to dismiss, Hagan noted the court had found Fowler not guilty because the prosecution had failed to present enough evidence to show Fowler had a part in removing Jimmy Caughron from the courtroom. Hagan called Fowler "the most culpable of the three" and said he did not believe continued prosecution would "serve the ends of justice.

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