UPDATE: Son of Smith Co. Commissioner guilty of illegally videotaping woman


POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 - 6:19pm

UPDATED: Saturday, March 19, 2011 - 7:12am

Smith County officials say last year, a woman who was an adult paid her friend, Lance Phillips to live in a room of his rental home. Phillips was arrested after she found hidden cameras in smoke detectors in her room.

Lance Phillips, 27, pleaded guilty to one count of Improper Visual Recording with intent to gratify.

Smith County Assistant District Attorney Jacob Putman says, "He'd installed cameras in the smoke detector--or what was a fake smoke detector--and in the ceiling. There was a microphone in the camera, and the wires ran through the ceiling and down into his closet."

Improper Visual Recording is a state jail felony. Putnam says Phillips was sentenced to two years in prison, which was cut to 5 years probation.

"If he complies with the terms and conditions of his probation, he won't actually do the two years. If he violates his probation, the judge can sentence him up to two years," says Putman

State law does not require him to register as a sex offender. Putman says, "There are two types of Improper Visual Recording...one in a dressing room, one not in a dressing room....and neither one require sex offender registration."

Lance is the son of Smith County Commissioner Terry Phillips and County Clerk Karen Phillips.

Neighbors tell us they believe the parents' position in the community helped Lance get a lighter sentence, but officials say they gave him the maximum sentence according to state law.

Lance has been arrested before for public intoxication, theft, and reckless driving, but this was his first felony.

His father--Terry Phillips-- did not want to go on camera, but he says in a statement: "The court handed down the sentence they thought was appropriate. Now, it's time for my son to abide by the court's decision. No matter what, we stand by our son and love him." He also says his son's actions will not affect the way he serves the county.

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Too bad the dentist convicted of this very same crime last month didn't have a wife or brother serving in a public capicity fo Smith county like this guy does. The dentist got prison time and a fine and must register as a sex offender. This guy, whose parents work for the county were able to convince the nameless judge that laws concerning protocal for retailers, ie. a retail store with a camera that inadvertantly peers into a dressing room should apply to our councilmans son's rent house.

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