Plead not guilty

A former Greenville Independent School District official and another individual, indicted in connection with the alleged theft of thousands of dollars from the district, have pleaded not guilty.

A former Greenville Independent School District official and another individual, indicted in connection with the alleged theft of thousands of dollars from the district, have pleaded not guilty.

The bond for one of the defendants was also significantly reduced during an arraignment hearing on the charges Friday morning in the 196th District Court.

Former GISD Chief Human Resources Officer Ralph Lee Sanders and Tevin Brookins were indicted by the Hunt County grand jury Aug. 23, 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 men entered pleas of not guilty during the arraignments. Judge Andrew Bench accepted the pleas and scheduled hearings to receive discovery evidence in the case for Nov. 15.

Brookins’ attorney, Frederick C. Shelton of Greenville, also filed a motion seeking a reduction in his client’s $150,000 bond on the charge.

Bench complied, lowering the bond for Brookins, 26, to $50,000. Brookins was taken into custody at a Greenvillle hotel on Sept. 26.

Sanders, 61, of Irving was reportedly taken into custody in Dallas County on or about Aug. 24 and was later released on $50,000 bond.

Records with the Hunt County Detention Center indicated Brookins was still in custody as Friday evening.

The indictments were initially filed under the jurisdiction of the 354th District Court, but were transferred to the jurisdiction of 196th District Court.

Prosecution of the case is being handled by Raegan Lynn Lambert with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, who could not be reached for comment Friday.

An attorney representing Sanders was not listed under court records Friday.

The charge itself alleges 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 from 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 have 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.”

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