Billy Fort, who is in his sixth term as a Gregg County Pct. 2 constable, has submitted his resignation after pleading guilty to driving his official vehicle while intoxicated.

Fort, 55, said in a letter dated Nov. 18 addressed to the Gregg County Commissioners Court that his resignation will become effective at the end of the year. The commissioners are set for a regular meeting at 10 a.m. Monday at which time they are expected to, among other items, accept Fort’s letter, according to the meeting agenda.

“It is with great regret that after 36 years of faithful public service to Gregg County, first as Paramedic for Kilgore EMS and then as Constable Precinct 2 for Gregg County, I must submit my resignation letter as I enter my retirement effective December 31, 2021,” the letter said.

The letter is dated the same day Fort pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in a plea agreement. According to court records, Fort received a 180-day suspended jail sentence and one year of probation on community supervision for the charge after his October arrest. Fort also was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service, pay $875 in fines and fees as well as attend DWI and drug classes.

A special condition of his plea was that Fort must surrender his peace officer license and resign as constable.

In his letter, Fort said he regrets the circumstances surrounding his resignation. He noted he served with his father, former Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Arthur Fort who died in February, and praised the precinct’s residents and officials.

“It is the Best Precinct in the Best County in the Best State of the Best Nation on this Earth,” he said.

Longview police responded at 5:11 a.m. on Oct. 12 to Gilmer Road and Evergreen Street about a reckless driver in the area. A witness reported seeing a constable’s SUV swerving in and out of lanes on Gilmer Road and almost hitting another vehicle, according to police.

An officer saw the vehicle turn into the parking lot of Brookshire’s, 3354 Gilmer Road, police said. The officer identified the driver as Fort.

Fort showed “several signs” of being intoxicated, police said, and he admitted to having taken Xanax and an unknown muscle relaxer before driving his patrol unit. After Fort failed three sobriety tests, he was arrested.

Bond was set at $5,000 during Fort’s initial court appearance. On the afternoon of Oct. 12, however, a felony charge of obstruction or retaliation was added. He was released the following day on bonds totaling $45,000. The felony charge was not listed on court records pertaining to Fort’s plea agreement.

As part of the conditions of his release on bond, Fort had to surrender all firearms, use an ignition interlock device and is barred from driving county vehicles.

In 2005, Fort pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor deadly conduct charge and was sentenced to six months of deferred probation while he was constable. According to reports, Fort fired a gun in his home and appeared to be under the influence.

The report stated that he “smelled of alcohol and was very incoherent. Mr. Fort had slurred speech and was unable to comprehend all of the questions he was asked.”

Former District Attorney Bill Jennings told the News-Journal at the time that neither Fort’s plea nor the probation would affect his constable position.

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Courtney Stern is a public safety reporter covering a wide range of topics. She grew up in Baltimore and later earned a journalism degree from the University of Miami. Stern moved to East Texas from Iowa with her husband and two dogs, Pebbles and Bam Bam.