Suspended Panola County sheriff enters guilty plea on tampering charge
From Staff Reports
May 16, 2013 at 9:05 a.m.
Ron Clinton, the Panola County sheriff <a href="http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/judge-removes-embattled-panola-county-sheriff-from-office/article_1149ca4f-c852-51a6-9e33-2925db04377a.html">suspended from office</a> earlier this month, today entered a guilty plea to tampering with a government document in district court.
Judge Diane DeVasto accepted the plea but withheld a finding of guilt, defense attorney David Moore said. The judge placed Clinton under three years probation.
"If he complies with terms of probation, then the judge will dismiss the case without ever finding him guilty or convicting him of a felony," Moore said of the deferred adjudication agreement.
As part of the plea arrangement, Clinton - who had been elected to office in November - resigned from office, surrendered his peace officer certification and agreed to pay the county $1,000 which was at the core of the investigation.
Clinton was <a href="http://www.news-journal.com/news/police/panola-county-sheriff-arrested-charged-in-corruption-investigation/article_211e132a-57d9-5607-a1b5-c66ca3368304.html">arrested in February</a> and charged with tampering with a government record, abuse of official capacity and theft by a public servant.
Clinton read a letter of apology to the court, Moore said.
"At one point during tape recorded interviews of the case the lead ranger made the comment that sometimes good people make mistakes," Moore said Thursday afternoon following the hearing. "The ranger said he felt like that's what happened and I certainly would not disagree with his assessment."