Prison officials indicted for burning possible evidence of theft ring

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Three Texas prison officials have been indicted for burning tractor parts that could have been evidence in an investigation into possible theft at the Eastham unit in Houston County, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The indictments were handed down in June for Jason Omelina, the farm shop property manager at the Eastham unit, and Rick Ellis and Terry Price, two Huntsville-based prison officials.

In July 2018, examiners from the Office of the Inspector General for the prison system began investigating the unit after the office fielded complaints that prison workers were stealing farm equipment from the facility and burning some of that equipment in a pit to cover up the malfeasance, the newspaper reported. 

Investigators allege that Price and Ellis were co-conspirators and Omelina was ordered to “make the state’s surplus assets disappear,” the Chronicle reported. The three men were arrested in July 2018.

Ellis’ attorney previously told the newspaper that the burned tractor parts were surplus materials the workers were trying to dispose of, and they didn’t realize that burning them in a pit without authorization was against protocol.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice referred to its previous comment on the case that “the department is committed to rooting out wrongdoing and holding employees accountable.”

 

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