Hot Check Roundup

Ex-Anderson County Clerk's Office Deputy Indicted on 918 Counts

A former deputy in the Anderson County clerk's office has been indicted by an Anderson County grand jury in an alleged "skimming" case in which authorities say she took cash intended for the county's coffers.

Bridgette Franklin, 23, of Elkhart was indicted on Thursday on a total of 918 counts on the felony charges of theft by a public servant and misapplication of fiduciary funds, according to Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe.

During a three-year period beginning in February 2008 and ending in May, authorities allege Franklin stole cash presented by customers to purchase birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses and other documents while working as a deputy clerk for the county clerk's office.

In its 251-page indictment against Franklin, the state alleges the woman skimmed a total of $32,261 intended for the county, according to Lowe.

Chris Dobbs, an investigator with the Anderson County district attorney's office who is a certified fraud examiner, spent between 60 and 70 hours on the investigation, according to the district attorney. Employees of the Anderson County clerk's office expended manpower hours to assist as well, he added.

Franklin was employed by the county clerk's office for almost five years, beginning in June 2006 and ending this past May when she was terminated in connection with the skimming investigation.

Dobbs said Friday that he was able to determine the number of counts and total loss to the county through "a review and analysis of all transactions for the entire time of her employment."

New procedures have been put in place by the Anderson County clerk's office to prevent a similar occurrence, according to Lowe.

Marriage licenses typically cost $72 in the clerk's office, while the standard charge for a birth and death certificate is $22.

Lowe said Franklin stole cash used by customers for purchase of these and other documents on hundreds of occasions—often times multiple times in a day—over the three-year period alleged in the document.

"There's a significant amount of money that comes into that office," Lowe said.

Franklin was terminated from her position on May 19—several days after the district attorney's office had started its investigation into the alleged activities.

Lowe said his office hopes to have the case against Franklin adjudicated "before the end of the year.

"I think it's important that we handle this case like any other case in our office and move along and reach a resolution," the district attorney said. "...She's innocent until proven guilty in court."

As of Saturday afternoon, Franklin had not been arrested on the charges, according to jail records.

Her bonds on the charges total $35,000 and were set by 369th State District Judge Bascom W. Bentley III.

Franklin is being represented by local attorney Phil Fletcher, according to Lowe.

Article by Paul Stone, Palestine Herald-Press




After deliberating for 48 minutes a jury of six men and six women found Moses Torres, a Palestine resident, guilty of evading arrest/detention with a vehicle, with previous convictions, sentencing him to 55 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division. District Judge Bascom W. Bentley III presided over the case.

According to police reports, in the early hours of September 8, 2010 Mr. Torres fled in his vehicle after Palestine Police Officer Mark Harcrow attempted to stop Torres for a minor transportation code violation. Mr. Torres proceeded to run though multiple stop signs in an attempt to avoid capture. Following a chase that spanned a distance of four tenths of a mile the vehicle eventually came to a stop.

According to Officer Harcrow, the driver began “frantically pulling on the door handle” in an attempt to proceed on foot but was unable to open the door. Mr. Torres was detained, identified, and placed under arrest for evading arrest/detention with a vehicle at that time.

After hearing testimony from officer Harcrow and viewing video from the officer’s in-car dash camera the jury returned a verdict of guilty and sentenced Mr. Torres to 55 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division.

The typical range of punishment for a felony evading arrest with a vehicle charge is 180 days to 2 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice State Jail Division. However, because Mr. Torres had several previous conviction of evading arrest the charge was enhanced to a third degree offense with a range of punishment of 2 to 10. The range of punishment was further enhanced to 25 to 99 years or life because of Torres' multiple prior felony convictions. 

Stanley Sokolowski, first assistant district attorney, represented the State of Texas.

Local attorney Bill House represented the defendant.


Anderson County plans No Refusal Weekend for Independence Holiday

"We’re not taking ‘no’ for an answer,” says Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe about requiring suspected DWI drivers to provide a breath or blood sample after they are arrested during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

This weekend the District Attorney’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, Palestine Police Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Frankston Police Department, are teaming with law enforcement agencies all over Texas in the first ever state-wide Independence Day No Refusal Campaign.

From Friday, July 1 to Monday, July 4 participating officers plan to take a mandatory blood sample or breath test for all drivers and motorboat operators who appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of any substance.  If the driver refuses, law enforcement will request a search warrant from a judge authorizing the taking of a blood sample from the driver. 

If the results show that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit of 0.08, the driver will be detained and may be charged with DWI.

The “No Refusal Weekend” follows a TXDOT (the Texas Department of Transportation) media blitz to make drivers aware of the increased DWI enforcement and to tell drivers that if they drink, get a designated driver.

“We’ve had a no refusal policy in Anderson County in effect for the last couple of years, and I believe it has made a real difference in our ability to prosecute DWI offenses,” said District Attorney Lowe.

“The difference with this weekend is that anywhere somebody drives or boats in Texas, they’re going to be required to give a breath or blood sample if the officer believes the person is intoxicated.  So, refusal to provide a sample is not an option,” Mr. Lowe added. 

Elected district attorneys and law enforcement officers believe the “No Refusal Weekend” will reduce the number of DWIs and alcohol related fatalities because drivers and boat operators have been warned of the campaign, and are expected to make their plans accordingly. 

The DWI No Refusal Program is geared towards reducing the number of DWIs and fatalities due to drunk driving.  There are thousands of deaths related to drunk driving yearly.  In 2008 alone, Texas had 1,463 people die from alcohol related crashes.


Walk a Mile in Her Shoes


District Attorney Doug Lowe, Assitant District Attorney Scott Holden and Assistant District Attorney Trevor Theilen all walked a mile in her shoes. The walk raised more than $9,000 for the Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties during the inaugural “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” event Saturday in Palestine.

But more importantly, the more than 35 men who participated in the walk in heels — along with at least another 100 supporters walking next to them — raised awareness in the community that domestic violence won’t be tolerated. 



Every Fifteen Minutes Comes to Westwood

The Every Fifteen Minutes program is based on the statistic that a teenager is killed in an alcohol related crash every fifteen minutes. The program simulates a crash and students observe actual emergency response personnel work the crash scene. The scene culminates in the "arrest" of one student for DWI. For more information about the program, please visit