Plaintiff in civil suit gave bank info to Sheriff
"All politics is local." - former Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O'Neil
Six Shooter Junction – In an out-of-the-way and nearly isolated District Court far from the McLennan County Courthouse, the story of how easily a man's life and security can come into total danger got a public hearing this morning.
The story tumbled out of the attorneys' mouths like a trip down bad street.
Each house on the block got worse and worse until they told 74th District Judge Gary Coley about the last house on the block – the worst one of all, the ugliest one where the most vicious people live.
The plaintiff in a lawsuit over the costs of building a home for retired Texas Ranger Matt Cawthon and his wife, who is now a Deputy U.S. Marshal assigned to a task force that brings desperados to justice and helps Uncle Sam seize the assets of drug kingpins, took it upon himself to distribute the Ranger's financial information, home address, bank records and account numbers, credit slips and receipts, bank statements, even the couple's social security numbers.
It's not the kind of stuff you want the underworld of drug dealers, confidence men, embezzlers, smugglers, auto theives, armed robbers, burglars and convicted murderers to get hold of after a career as a Texas Ranger.
It's even worse when your best buddy, your sidekick, is running for Sheriff of McLennan County.
But that's not the full Monty, the whole enchilada. The man who is suing Ranger Cawthon gave the information to incumbent Sheriff Larry Lynch and Chief Deputy Randy Plemons, the candidate for the same job retired Deputy U.S. Marshal Parnell McNamara and his sidekick Matt Cawthon are campaigning hard to get.
All this stuff was in a deposition taken during the litigation of the lawsuit.
Here's how it happened.
Ranger Matt Cawthon and his wife Shelly made a contract to have a new home built.
Things didn't work out the way they wanted them to, and they had to sue the builder over the cost-plus overruns on the job.
That's when Brazos Homes, LLC, owner Marvin Steakley filed suit on the couple, who support Parnell McNamara in his bid for McLennan County Sheriff against Chief Deputy Randy Plemons.
As soon as he did, he stopped paying the subcontractors, according to Mr. Cawthon.
“We had them all out to the job site and we questioned each one. They all said they were owed money. So, we paid them off – wrote checks for what they were owed, even though we weren't the ones who owed the money. We used our cash on hand and our savings because it was the right thing to do.”
This morning, bright and early, they were in Judge Gary Coley's 74th District Court at the Bill Logue Juvenile Justice Center at 2601 Gholson Road to do the next right thing.
Their attorney, Henry Wright, told the judge, “There has been some concern about dissemination of certain information obtained as discovery in this matter outside the litigation. Some of the information has been disseminated outisde the litigation for criminal purposes...There are political agendas in this courtroom...The discovery was given to Sheriff Lynch and Deputy Plemons for political purposes.”
The plaintiff's attorney, Stephen R. Fontaine, at one point mentioned that Mrs. Cawthon wrote e-mails to American Bank Bank “calling my clients liars, cheats and thieves...
“I have no objection to the motion to seal the contents of this deposition.”
District Judge Gary Coley asked, “So you're not arguing statutory confidentiality of the matter?”
When Mr. Fontaine assured him he was not, Judge Coley said he will grant an order sealing the deposition for the entire life of the lawsuit.
How did Ranger Cawthon apprehend what had happened to his banking records, credit card information, loan applications, receipts and cancelled checks, his home address and phone numbers?
“A confidential informant came forward and told me,” he said. “Over the years, you arrest people and you treat them right. When you do, it comes back to you...Hey, all this is about is this guy and I are arguing over how much money I owe him. See? That's what it's about.”