Ex-Central Texas city manager indicted over alleged ticket quota plan

Ex-Marlin City Manager Alan Grindstaff. (Jail photo)
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MARLIN, Texas (KWTX) Ex-Marlin City Manager Alan Grindstaff was arrested Wednesday after he was indicted for abuse of official capacity following a Texas Ranger’s investigation into an alleged plan to offset a budget shortfall with revenue from traffic tickets.

Grindstaff remained jailed in lieu of a $15,000 bond.

Officials said he would go before a judge Thursday.

The offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

Grindstaff violated the law by “requiring or suggesting to” Marlin’s police chief, Nathan Sodek, in early February “that his department was required to or expected to issue a predetermined or specified number of any type or combination of traffic citations within a specified period,” and by “establishing or maintaining, formally or informally, a plan to evaluate, promote, compensate or discipline” Sodek “ based on the issuance of those citations, according to an indictment handed up on Monday.

While it's illegal to create traffic ticket quotas, municipalities are allowed to estimate the amount of money its court anticipates will be collected in a budget year, according to the traffic section of the Texas Penal Code.

Grindstaff had estimated that police needed to write about 500 tickets a month in order to generate $700,000 in revenue for the city.

In January he told the council that while the city was on pace to double the more than $250,000 in ticket revenue from the previous fiscal year, but not to generate the $700,000.

He revised the estimate to $517,000, telling the council then, “We will make that money, from what the chief tells me.”

Grindstaff, Marlin's fourth city manager in about five years, was hired in February 2017.

The Marlin City Council voted 7-0 on March 12 to terminate his contract, which was supposed to run until April 2020.

His contract was supposed to run until April of 2020, however, Keefer said there are clauses in his contract that allowed for a buyout, and they took it.