Change of venue sought

Prosecutors in the case of a former Greenville ISD official and another individual, indicted in connection with the alleged theft of thousands of dollars from the district, are seeking to have the pending trial for one of the defendants moved from Hunt County.

Prosecutors in the case of a former Greenville ISD official and another individual, indicted in connection with the alleged theft of thousands of dollars from the district, are seeking to have the pending trial for one of the defendants moved from Hunt County.

In a motion to change venue Raegan Lambert with the Assistant Attorney General with the Texas Attorney General’s Office claimed Ralph Sanders would have an unfair advantage if the trial remained at the Hunt County Courthouse.

Lambert, the special prosecutor in the case said, “the majority of the potential jurors would come from Greenville, simply due to numbers. This presents a combination and influence in favor of the accused such that a fair and an impartial trial as between the accused and the estate cannot be safely and speedily had, and the ends of public justice would be served by a change of venue.”

Lambert also indicated that death threats had been made to at least one of the prosecution witnesses.

A hearing to consider the motion is scheduled on the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 17, in the 196th District Court.

Attorney Andres Carullo of Dallas, who is representing Sanders, could not be reached for comment Tuesday about the hearing.

Lambert is not seeking a change of venue for the other defendant indicted in the matter, Tevin Brookins. An announcement hearing is scheduled in Brookins’ case on March 10.

Sanders, 61, of Irving, the former GISD chief human resources officer, and Brookins, 28, of Greenville, were indicted by the Hunt County grand jury in August 2019, each on a charge of theft of property by a public servant of the value of $2,500 or more but less than $30,000.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

The indictments allege that between Aug. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017, Sanders and Brookins appropriated “money, or pay or benefits” from the district during Sanders’ tenure “and such property appropriated had therefore come into Ralph Sanders’ custody, possession, or control by virtue of his status as such a public servant.”

The charge is a third-degree felony, punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of two to 10 years in prison, with an optional fine of up to $10,000.

The district released an official statement concerning the indictments:

“In late October 2017, GISD became aware of issues regarding these two individuals named in the indictments. The District promptly conducted a thorough internal investigation and took appropriate personnel action. Neither of the individuals named in the indictments has been employed with GISD since 2017. In April 2018, on the recommendation of the District’s new general counsel and the forensic auditor, the District referred the matter to law enforcement. The District appreciates law enforcement’s continued work on this case. Investigations concerning this matter have been in process for over two years, and we are grateful to see them coming to a conclusion.”

In his motion, Lambert said no one has been arrested in connection with the reported threats against the prosecution witness.

“While the threats made do not seem to be directly related to witnesses testifying in this trial, it is prudent to suspect that this witness’s life and possibly other witnesses ’ lives might be in jeopardy by having the trial in Hunt County,” Lambert said. “There has been some intimidation of a potential witness in this matter. Again, not in specific reference to testifying at trial, but just generally trying to get them to not talk about the issues and facts involved in GISD matters.”

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