McLennan County Justice of the Peace Jean Laster Boone arrived at the McLennan County Courthouse Friday afternoon. (Photo by John Carroll)
Former McLennan County Tax Asesssor-Collector A. F. “Buddy” Skeen was the last local official caught up in an investigation by the Texas Rangers.
He was indicted on a series of charges that stemmed from a false statement on a motor vehicle title application and the theft of accessories from a county-owned vehicle that were installed on Skeen's personal vehicle.
Skeen was released in April from a state jail in Dallas County after completing a 180-day sentence.
He pleaded guilty on Sept. 19, 2012 to misapplication of fiduciary property, a state jail felony, and then asked that a jury decide punishment.
The jury decided on a maximum two-year jail term, a $10,000 fine and five years of probation but District Judge Matt Johnson suspended the jail term and ordered Skeen instead to serve 180 days in state jail, followed by five years of probation.
Then during a pretrial hearing on Sept. 28, 2012, Skeen pleaded guilty to using a false name, providing false information and forgery on one count and theft by a public servant on another count.
Skeen was sentenced concurrently to five years of probation on the theft charge and 10 years of probation on the false name and forgery charge, was fined a total of $2,000, ordered to pay about $13,000 in restitution and to perform 400 hours of community service.
Texas Rangers served a warrant on Skeen's office on July 20, 2011 searching for records to support an investigation involving allegations that Skeen fraudulently listed a county-owned vehicle as a trade-in for the purchase of a personal pickup truck to avoid paying more than $1,300 in sales tax.
WACO (September 20, 2013)-- McLennan County Pct. 7 Justice of the Peace E. Jean Laster Boone, 59, was being booked into the McLennan County Jail Friday after a closed-door meeting with Texas Rangers and Pct. 1 Pl. 2 Justice of the Peace Pete Peterson at the county courthouse.
Laster Boone was released on a $2,500 bond late Friday evening.
Her release was delayed due to a problem that slowed the facility's computer system.
The Rangers obtained an arrest warrant for her earlier Friday charging tampering with government records.
The Rangers opened an investigation earlier this summer into possible discrepancies in the travel reimbursement reports that Boone’s office submitted, after former employees claimed Boone told them to falsify the mileage on the documents.
In June McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna asked the Rangers to review the records after former employees claimed Boone told them to falsify the mileage on the documents.
Rangers later questioned the employees, who confirmed the incidents, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Boone can claim a maximum of $360 a month in reimbursement for use of her personal vehicle on county business and is paid by the mile.
The affidavit released Friday said one of the former employees told Rangers Boone directed employees “to figure out the miles so she could get the maximum amount.”
“Basically all the mileage was made up and the Judge did not provide any information on her car or the actual miles driven,” the affidavit said.
Documents obtained earlier by News 10 show that the mileage reports she's submitted for the past year almost all add up to exactly $360 each month.
In several cases, the final odometer reading that Laster reported at the end of the month was as much as 1,000 miles more than the starting reading that appeared on the next month's report.
County Auditor Stan Chambers received copies of e-mails from Laster to the now-former employees directing the workers to prepare daily mileage reports without any proof the miles were actually driven and said he turned those over to the Texas Rangers, as well.
Boone has not commented on the allegations and again refused to comment Friday.
Her attorney, Thomas West said she's cooperating with authorities.
West also represented former McLennan County Tax Assessor-Collector A. F. “Buddy” Skeen, who was released in April from a state jail in Dallas after completing a 180-day sentence.
Skeen was indicted on a series of charges that stemmed from a false statement on a motor vehicle title application and the theft of accessories from a county-owned vehicle that were installed on Skeen's personal vehicle.
He pleaded guilty in September 2012 to charges stemming from the Texas Rangers probe.