By BRAD KELLAR
Three people indicted in connection with an investigation of the local Child Protective Services (CPS) office waived arraignment on the charges Monday.
Hearings were set Monday morning in the 354th District Court for Laura Ard, Natalie Ausbie Reynolds and Rebekah Thonginh Ross. All three were indicted by the Hunt County grand jury last month.
During an arraignment hearing, the defendants and/or their attorneys would be expected to enter formal pleas of not guilty to the indictments, at which time Judge Richard A. Beacom could scheduled tentative trial dates in the respective cases.
But attorneys for all three defendants issued communications to the court Monday, indicating they waved formal arraignments and automatially entering pleas of not guilty.
Beacom scheduled tenative trial dates on all of the charges for March 10, 2014.
Ard, 60, of Rockwall, received one indictment for tampering with physical evidence. Reynolds 33, of Fate, received three indictments for official oppression and one indictment for tampering with/fabricating physical evidence. Ross, 34 of Greenville, received four indictments for official oppression and one indictment for tampering with/fabricating physical evidence.
The charges allege all three acted together to use a false document in the investigation of the mother of slain Greenville teenager Alicia Moore and that Ross and Reynolds conducted unlawful searches and/or seizures in connection with CPS investigations.
The tampering with physical evidence indictments allege all three defendants acted together on our about Nov. 6, 2012 “to use a record and/or document to wit: the risk assessment involving Aretha Moore ... with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the course or outcome of the investigation.”
In three of the official oppression indictments, Reynolds and Ross were alleged to have acted together as CPS investigators to have subjected three separate individuals who were under CPS investigations “to search and seizure that the defendant knew as unlawful” on or about Dec. 16, 20111, March 28, 2012 and June 14, 2012.
Ross was also alleged to have subjected a fourth individual under CPS investigation to an unlawful search and/or seizure on June 27, 2012.
The tampering with evidence indictments are third degree felonies, whereas the official oppression charges are Class A misdemeanors which fall under the jurisdiction of the district court system.