REFUGIO – A Refugio County Sheriff’s Deputy has been indicted by a Refugio County grand jury on charges of tampering with evidence at the scene of an investigation.
Jeff Raymond, who had been a lieutenant earlier this year before he was moved to a sergeant position, was indicted on May 20 for “knowing that an investigation was in progress” in connection with a death in the county and “did then and there alter, destroy and conceal a thing, namely: $50 in U.S. currency, with intent to impair its veracity and availability as evidence in any subsequent investigation of or official proceeding related to said investigation, by removing the U.S. currency from the scene against the peace and dignity of the state,” according to the indictment obtained from the district attorney’s office.
Tampering with evidence is a third degree felony that is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Cody Lankford, a member of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Texas Rangers division, is listed on the indictment as a witness.
A statement by the 24th Judicial District Attorney’s Office indicates that “members of the Refugio County Sheriff’s Department reported the incident to supervisors and an internal investigation was conducted. Lt. Raymond cooperated with the internal investigation. Texas Ranger Cody Lankford conducted a separate criminal investigation into Deputy Raymond’s conduct and presented his findings to the Refugio County grand jury.
“The Refugio County Sheriff’s Department fully cooperated with the Ranger investigation.
“District Attorney Robert C. Lassmann would like to thank the Texas Rangers for their assistance and intends to see that Mr. Raymond is appropriately punished.”
Refugio County Sheriff Pinky Gonzales said he has been notified that Raymond has been indicted.
“They must have found enough evidence to go to trial, but he’s not found guilty yet,” Gonzales said.
He said earlier this year Raymond, who had been a patrol lieutenant, was moved to a sergeant’s post.
“I relieved him of supervisory duties, but he is still our canine handler, firearms instructor, armory guy — which is the one who cleans and inspects the weapons,” Gonzales said. “He’s put in about 20 years (in law enforcement) and has done good work.”
Gonzales said Raymond is also one of the sheriff’s office’s technology experts.
Comment was sought from Raymond through the sheriff, but no communication had yet been received by the County Press.
Assistant District Attorney Tim Poynter said the next step in the process will be an arraignment hearing in which the charges will be formally read to Raymond.
“It is my understanding that the district judge has scheduled an arraignment for June 17,” Poynter said.
Jeff Osborne is the editor of the Refugio County Press.