By Kati Moody
A Hockley County grand jury indicted Michael Lance Scott, 45, constable for Hockley County’s Precinct No. 5, Tuesday.
He was indicted for stalking and abuse of official capacity between $2,500 and $30,000.
In September, a 19-year-old woman reported to police that Scott was following her at work. She told police the man would enter the business, find her and stand close to her and stare at her while she worked. She said she would walk away from the area and he would follow her, according to reports.
According to the police report, she said on one occasion, she was working the cash register when he came through her lane. She told police he made conversation and asked what time she got off. She said this made her uncomfortable and she didn’t answer the question.
Other employees had also observed the behavior and told police they knew the man from his work as an instructor at South Plains College, reports said.
Approximately two weeks after making the initial report, the 19-year-old woman made a second report with police regarding behavior by Scott’s family. She said a member of Scott’s family had come into her place of work and given her a note with a phone number that said ‘Call me!’
The woman told police she called the number and no one answered but the next day, she began receiving text messages from Scott’s wife. The woman told police she did not want Scott’s wife contacting her anymore, reports said.
The indictment says Scott, on or about on various dates between October 15, 2017 and December 15, 2018, ‘knowingly engaged in conduct directed specifically toward (the complainant) that the defendant knew or reasonably believed that the said complainant would regard as harassment, to-wit: on numerous occasions entering the workplace of (the complainant) and staring at (the complainant) and following (the complainant) at her workplace, and the defendant’s said conduct would cause a reasonable person to feel, and did cause (the complainant) to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed and offended.’
In the second paragraph of the indictment, Scott is accused of engaging in conduct within the set time frame that was directed specifically toward (the complainant) that the defendant knew or reasonably believed that the said (complainant) would regard as threatening bodily injury or death.
Trey Hill, assistant district attorney for the 286th Judicial District, said the abuse of official capacity between $2,500 and $30,000 stems from Scott’s time as an instructor at South Plains College. Scott was issued a credit card by South Plains College with a $5,000 credit limit, which he used to purchase two gift cards in the amount of $175 each.
The indictment says on or about September 7, 2018, Scott ‘with intent to obtain a benefit…misused a thing of value belonging to government, namely a credit card, to purchase gift cards…not authorized by South Plains College, and the value of the credit card so misused was more than $2,500, but less than $30,000.’
Hill said reports indicate Scott told the college he purchased the gift cards to use in a fundraising endeavor. However, when college officials questioned Scott about where the cards were, he provided two different gift cards for the same amount. Officials were able to determine the original gift cards were purchased in September with the college’s credit card while the cards Scott turned over were purchased that day.
Through an investigation, it was determined one of the gift cards purchased with the college’s credit card in September was used at a United Supermarket in Lubbock. Investigators found the woman who used the gift card in Lubbock purchased groceries and also entered her phone number for her rewards account.
Texas Rangers questioned the woman, who was found to be a female escort in Lubbock. She told the Texas Rangers that Scott had given her the gift card she used at the store, Hill said.
Hill said though Scott only purchased $350 worth of gift cards using the college’s credit card, the $5,000 credit limit is what determined the charge of abuse of official capacity between $2,500 and $30,000.
‘The value of the item that was misused determines the charge,’ Hill said.
As a second count in the indictment for abuse of official capacity, Scott is also charged with tampering with evidence for presenting new gift cards to the college in place of the ones he purchased in September.
The indictment says on or about October 23, 2018, Scott ‘knowing that an investigation was pending, namely an investigation for unauthorized purchases on a government-issued credit card, intentionally and knowingly presented gift cards to Ryan Gibbs (vice president of academic affairs at SPC) with knowledge of their falsity and with intent to affect the course or outcome of the investigation.’
Christopher Dennis, district attorney for the 286th Judicial District, said the Texas Rangers were the investigating agency on both the stalking and abuse of official capacity charges.
After being indicted Tuesday, Scott was arrested and transported to the Hockley County Jail. He was held on a $7,500 bond for the stalking charge and a $2,500 bond for the abuse of official capacity between $2,500 and $30,000. He was released from the jail the same day on bail.
His arrest Tuesday is the third time Scott has been arrested in less than four months. He was arrested in November for driving while intoxicated with an open container and again in January for assault, family violence; resisting arrest, and public intoxication.
Scott was elected Hockley County constable in 2012. His term ends December 31, 2020.
Anna Hord, attorney for Hockley County, said she plans to file a petition to remove Scott from office if he doesn’t submit his resignation before then. She said she is waiting to get the full offense report for the felony charges, stalking and tampering with evidence, before moving forward.
‘There is a pattern that needs to be articulated, not just one issue but multiple issues, and I plan on articulating that in the petition,’ Hord said. ‘The DWI is a big deal, criminally the felonies are trumping that.’
The stalking charge is a third-degree felony and the abuse of official capacity charge is a state jail felony, Hill said.
Defense attorney Steve Hamilton is representing Scott in the DWI case and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the News-Press Wednesday.
Dane Dewbre, associate dean of marketing and recruitment at SPC, confirmed an investigation into the abuse of the college’s credit card was conducted.
When asked if Scott’s resignation was a result of that investigation, Dewbre said “Dr. Scott was employed with SPC on a full-time basis on July 24, 2006 until he voluntarily resigned his position at SPC effective December 31, 2018.”
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