The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office has submitted a criminal mischief case against Henderson ISD trustee Jon Best to Rusk County District Attorney Micheal Jimerson.
Sheriff Jeff Price confirmed his office had done so, but both he and Jimerson declined to comment on the case, which could advance to the grand jury.
Best’s attorney, Darryl Bennett of Longview, said he had not been notified of the action.
Bennett issued a statement Oct. 4 in which Best denied paying two teenagers to damage the pickup truck of election challenger Adam Duey and steal Duey’s campaign signs, allegations that led to Best’s arrest.
Best’s former employee and renter, Adam Roberson, said Bennett and Best called him a few weeks ago to pressure Roberson’s 16-year-old son and a 17-year-old boy who lives with the Roberson family to retract the statements. He added Bennett threatened to “crush” the boys in court if the case went to trial.
“The boys told exactly what happened, but they told the truth,” Roberson said.
Bennett on Friday disputed Roberson’s account.
“I did not do that,” Bennett said. “I did not ask them to retract nothing” that the boys told sheriff’s investigators.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested Best, 59, on Sept. 27 on a felony charge of criminal mischief of between $2,500 and $30,000 in damage. Best was released that day on a $10,000 bond from the Rusk County Jail.
The complaint against Best said he “intentionally and knowingly” damaged the pickup owned by Duey, who is challenging Best in the Nov. 5 election for the District 5 seat.
The arrest came seven days after Duey told the sheriff’s office that the tires of his pickup had been slashed, according to the complaint. Duey also reported his engine died shortly after the tires were repaired.
Duey also reported his campaign signs had been stolen and that he believed the sign thefts and damage to his pickup were “politically connected.”
A series of game camera photos taken Sept. 25 showed a pickup owned by Roberson was involved in stealing a campaign sign, the complaint said. The photos also showed a teenage boy getting out of the passenger door of the pickup and collecting the sign.
Roberson told authorities that the 17-year-old stole the sign while his son drove his pickup without his permission.
Contacted by authorities, the teens confessed to accepting $40 from Best to steal Duey’s signs, the complaint said. Roberson’s son admitted accepting $100 after Best gave him Duey’s address and asked him to slash Duey’s truck tires and put “a handful” of sugar in the gas tank.
The 16-year-old also said Best told him to “sabotage” Duey, and a third-party phone call between Roberson and Best corroborated the allegations.
Roberson said he did not know about the incidents involving his son and the other boy until investigators showed him the photos.
He said Best subsequently eliminated Roberson’s job by shutting down a floral wholesale business where Roberson was the sole employee and kicked him out of a house the Roberson family was renting. Roberson said he did not have a lease.
Roberson said he moved into his mother’s home and has landed a job as a long-haul truck driver.
He said somebody also fired a shot at his pickup a week ago on Loop 571 in Henderson, and he thinks the incident is connected with recent events.