From staff reports

Henderson ISD Trustee Jon Best paid two teenagers to slash the tires and contaminate the gas tank of the vehicle belonging to his challenger in the upcoming school board election, according to a criminal complaint filed in Rusk County.

Best, a school board trustee since 2004, was arrested by Rusk County sheriff’s deputies Sept. 27 on a charge of criminal mischief and released that day from the Rusk County Jail on $10,000 bond.

The complaint said Best, 59, “intentionally and knowingly” caused between $2,500 and $30,000 in damage to a pickup owned by Adam Duey.

Duey, who is challenging Best for a three-year term on the District 5 seat Nov. 5, reported Sept. 20 to the sheriff’s office about his tires being slashed, the complaint said.

The complaint said Duey introduced himself to Best, who replied, “I will destroy you,” and tried to intimidate Duey.

Duey reported his engine died shortly after he repaired his tires, and he suspected his gas tank had been contaminated, the complaint said. The complaint added Duey said he reported his campaign signs were stolen and believes the sign thefts and damage to his truck were “politically connected.”

A series of game camera photos taken Sept. 25 showed a pickup owned by Adam Roberson, an employee and tenant of Best, was involved in stealing another campaign sign, according to the complaint. The photos also showed a teenage boy getting out of the passenger door and collecting the sign.

Roberson told authorities the 17-year-old who stole the sign is a friend of his son, the complaint said. He also said his 16-year-old son drove the vehicle without his permission.

Contacted by authorities, the teens confessed to accepting $40 in cash from Best to steal Duey’s signs, the complaint said. The 16-year-old said Best gave him Duey’s address and admitted to accepting $100 in cash to slash the truck’s tires and putting “a handful” of sugar in the gas tank while it was parked on Duey’s property.

The 16-year-old also said Best told him to “sabotage” Duey, the complaint said, and a third-party consent phone call between Roberson and Best corroborated the allegations.

When asked whether he wanted additional signs stolen, Best said, “No ... I can sit on stage and say I don’t know nothing about it,” according to the complaint.