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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Justice of the Peace convicted of tampering; immediately removed from office

Judge Russ Casey, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 for Tarrant County pled guilty Monday, April 23, to Tampering with a Government Record, a state jail felony, a news release announced. In accordance with his agreement with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson’s Office, Casey immediately resigned his position as Justice of the Peace.

Casey has been sentenced to two years of state jail, probated over five years. In addition to resigning from the bench, he is prohibited from being on the premises of the Southlake Government Complex and Tarrant County Northeast Courthouse, where he previously held offices.

“No one is above the law in Tarrant County,” Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in the release.

This charge resulted from Casey’s submission of his Petition for Judicial Office, the release said. To be placed on the ballot, judges are required by Texas law to file a petition, with their respective political party, with voters’ signatures.

“I apologize to the citizens of Tarrant County, the Tarrant County Republican Party, my family and friends for the way I have ended my judicial career,” Casey said in a resignation letter.

Casey filed this petition on Dec. 11, 2017, for re-election to the Justice of the Peace seat to which he was first elected in 2007.

A joint investigation by the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office and Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office determined many of the 318 citizens’ signatures on the required petition Casey submitted were not given by the actual citizens, the release stated.

This form was signed and sworn to by Casey with his pledge that all signatures were witnessed personally by him.

“The citizens of Tarrant County place a great deal of trust in their elected officials,” prosecutor Matt Smid said in the release. “When an elected official abuses that trust, there must be consequences.”

Casey withdrew his re-election bid in January amid allegations that he turned in forged signatures to secure a spot on the March 6 ballot.

The Justice of the Peace post pays over $125,000 a year. Casey was set to serve through the end of 2018.

In 2017, Casey was publically reprimanded by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for engaging in an improper sexual relationship with his former chief clerk. Casey was elected as a justice of the peace for Tarrant County and began in that position in 2007.

The vacancy caused by Casey’s resignation will be filled by the Tarrant County Commissioners at their next meeting on May 1. Until then, County Judge Glen Whitley will name a former Justice of the Peace to sit in the position.

The full terms of Casey’s plea agreement are as follows:

Terms and Conditions of Plea

1. 2 Years State Jail Probated for 5 Years. Defendant is pleading guilty to the State Jail Felony Offense of Tampering with a Government Record.

2. Defendant resigns his position as Tarrant County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, immediately.

a. Proof of his resignation will be provided before the plea is accepted.

3. Defendant will stay away from the following premises:

a. Southlake Government Complex (1400 Main Street, Southlake, Texas 76092)

b. Tarrant County Northeast Courthouse (645 Grapevine Hwy., Hurst, Texas 76054)

c. This term and condition of probation shall constitute a Criminal Trespass Warning pursuant to Section 30.05 (b)(2)(A) of the Texas Penal Code.

4. $1,000 Fine

5. Standard Terms and Conditions of Probation

6. State agrees to not prosecute any other instances of the Defendant entering false information on his Petitions for Judicial Office dated December 11, 2017.

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