A Crock In Crockett

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We tackle the thorny issue of race head-on in this investigation. Hey someone has to, right?

Let’s dive in! The majority of city council members in Crockett are now Black, and race is likely playing a role in why a potentially corrupt city official in Crockett, Texas is being protected. We think that’s A CROCK… in Crockett.

Welcome to Crockett Texas.

This is the current state of affairs in a town named after one of heroes of the Texas revolution.

Davy Crockett camped out here on the way to the Alamo. I wonder what he would think of all this.

We were only in town for a couple of hours before we were eyewitnesses to a racial divide that is sadly now turning physical.

Inside city hall, the mayor ran from our questions after a meeting of the city council ended before it even started.

“Mayor, this is embarrassing to the city. People walking away from like simple questions. Why would you do that? Mayor this is really not the right play,” said Wayne Dolcefino.

And we broke a new Dolcefino media record for police criminal trespass warnings. We got two in less than fifteen minutes.

“So for the rest of my natural life I can’t go to this councilman’s home when he’s a chicken and won’t show up to a meeting,” Dolcefino said.

All because we were searching for something we call accountability. And it is sorely absent here.

“Everything the citizens had said was right,” said Virginia Lewis.

Inside the Moosehead Cafe, the frustration runs deep. And who can blame these folks?

There is a generation of flawed and failed Crockett officials that runs deep.

“I get very frustrated when I look at this because it was so much money wasted an unaccounted for,” said Sherald Wood.

At least 18 million dollars has been spent by the city’s economic and industrial development board since 2010. Millions more in loans and grants.

Records on where some of that money went are gone.

“For a town this size absolutely, it was stunning,” Wood said.

Former investment banker Sherald Wood has crunched the numbers.

And now there’s a forensic audit paid for by taxpayers that lays out the clear government negligence in 80 troubling pages.

Incompetence, waste, nepotism, evidence of fraud. A concoction that stinks of corruption.

“You will find I’m the most effective prosecutor,” said Donna Kaspar.

She talks real tough, but why is the longtime district attorney Donna Kaspar now hiding from us, accused of abandoning the folks who exposed this crock of crap?

Kaspar retires at the end of the year. Maybe she should leave early.

“She said well, what I have tonight from the forensic audit, to what I have on my desk, I’ve got enough right now to bring him to the grand jury and get an indictment. She never, ever did,” said Diane Rhone.

“I said Donna we elected you to do what’s right in the community and you threw us all under the bus,” Lewis said.

The former Justice of the Peace Clyde Black asked for the names of the grand jurors, a public record, hoping one of them would do what the DA failed to do: Launch a real investigation with the hard evidence right in front of them in the audit.

“The DA refused to give me the names of the grand jurors, where or when they met,” said Clyde Black.

It is that kind of frustration that resulted in a call to us.

“It’s sad, the money that has been wasted that could have been used in other places. We don’t have a workforce here,” said Joni Clonts.

News of our planned visit made the local paper. Longtime watchdogs in Crockett were simply fed up, and here’s why.

Last May, the Crockett city council wanted to put the controversial director of the economic development board back to work.

For a year and a half, James Gentry and his assistant had been paid on administrative leave. That itself is absurd.

Gentry was paid to do no work at all while the books of the agency he ran were examined. And it wasn’t the first time that big red flags would be found.

“He got caught three times with signed blank checks in his drawer that were unaccounted for in any of the bookkeeping,” said Chari Shuttlesworth.

The evidence is overwhelming, a financial mess that didn’t start with Mr. Gentry but was certainly allowed to continue to flourish under his watch.

The audit is scathing. Hundreds of credit card expenditures, bank records and checks unaccounted for. Unexplained loans, possible misuse of funds. Nepotism exposed.

The audit revealed Gentry had given the job of mowing property owned by taxpayers to a new company when he took over.

The guy who ran that company was his wife’s cousin. And guess what, the cost of mowing the fifteen properties the CEIDC owns skyrocketed.

“If you don’t clean it up, you will have the same mess,” Mayor Ianthia Fisher said.

The city council hadn’t even heard recommendations yet on how to fix the place, if it even should be saved.

“I think wisdom would say to us tonight is that we should table this until we get the conclusion from our legal counsel,” said Dennis Ivey.

But wisdom, logic, none of it mattered.

And some of the councilmembers who wanted to give Gentry the right to go back to work? Well, they had actually served on the same economic board now accused of all that mismanagement over the years. So, they share the blame.

“You think they are all buddies,” Dolcefino said.

“Oh yeah, Yeah, I do,” said Mike Marsh.

“The community, they want it dissolved and maybe start completely over,” Ivey said.

The vote was three to two, and it was impossible not to see the vote came down on racial lines.

There is a new Black majority on city council, and revenge, it appears, is in the air.

“There’s one person on there and that’s Darrell Jones, and Darrell is definitely pushing race,” Lewis said.

An open mic before the meeting caught this gem from another councilman, Elbert Johnson.

“Ain’t nobody care about my business. I’m supposed to come up and care about y’all.. Forget all of that man. Forget that bro, don’t come at me like that,” Johnson said.

You could cut the tension with a knife.

“It has nothing to do with race. It has to with what’s right and wrong,” Marsh said.

“It’s not about black and white, it’s not about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about what’s right,” Henderson said.

We met Oscar Henderson outside Crockett city hall. He’s the mayor’s brother.

“We’re making headlines for the wrong reason. I’ve seen a lot of things here, good and bad. But this is the worst,” Henderson said.

As we spoke, a fight broke out just a couple of feet away.

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