Bertram PD Chief calls indictment 'witch hunt'; Embattled JJ Wilson faces felony perjury, oppression charges

Chief James Jay (“JJ”) Wilson faces several indictment charges of official oppression, aggravated perjury and misuse of official information, according to court documents.

By Connie Swinney

Staff Writer

The Highlander

An embattled police chief has called a string of indictments, including perjury and official oppression charges, a “witch hunt” he believes stemmed from a dispute with a district attorney's office chief investigator who is a former Houston Police Department co-worker.

“This goes back many years. The (33rd/424th Judicial District) chief investigator and I worked together in the 1980s,” said Bertram Police Chief James Jay (“JJ”) Wilson said in a phone interview Oct. 4. “We worked at the Houston Police Department back then. He and I don't see things eye to eye.

“I think he's taking a personal vendetta against me,” he added. “(Prior to the indictment) I've made some comments. I've been vocal about it, and it has put a target on my back.”

The 424th Judicial District Grand Jury indicted Bertram Police Chief James Jay (“JJ”) Wilson Oct. 2 on charges of felony aggravated perjury, felony misuse of official information and misdemeanor official oppression, court documents stated.

The charges stemmed from three incident allegations in Burnet County in connection with a dispute over hay ownership, the release of criminal background information and a sworn statement in a drug-related arrest, according to the grand jury indictments.

Wilson, who has been the police chief for three years, turned himself into the Burnet County Jail on Oct. 2 and was released the same day on combined personal recognizance bonds on charges of oppression and information misuse totaling $100,000; along with a surety bond on the perjury charge which totaled $1,000.

Conditions of his bond include no firearms or ammunition possession, substance abuse testing and no contact with individuals named in the indictments.

Bertram City Mayor Adam Warden offered a statement which read that Wilson had “served the city of Bertram professionally and ethically,” indicating continued support for the embattled chief.

“During his tenure, he has given the city no reason to doubt his integrity and has become a valuable part of the Bertram community,” according to the mayor's statement. “We will certainly follow the pending Burnet County case but do not anticipate a change in his position or responsibilities at this time.”

Indictment documents stated that three counts of official oppression involved an incident in August 2017 where Jeremy Nicholas alleged Wilson threatened to have his truck impounded if he did not return hay bales to a Burnet County woman. A second accuser Cade Moore alleged the chief threatened to have his commercial license revoked if the two men did not give the hay to the woman.

Wilson said the complaint was turned over to the Burnet County Sheriff's Office who then referred it to Texas Rangers.

My understanding is that it was a dead issue because it was a he-said/she-said story. It was a closed case,” Wilson said. “The DA's office picked it up in 2018.”

Another indictment alleged that in October 2017 Wilson “unlawfully” arrested a drug suspect.

The allegation of the “false statement under oath,” stated that (the suspect) began to act irrational towards the officers and appeared to become more aggressive with each passing moment as the officers attempted to question the narcotics suspect,” according to court documents.

The indictment alleged Wilson falsified a sworn statement in an affidavit to gain probable cause in the resulting public intoxication arrest.

“That incident is on a body camera,” Wilson said. “My officer had a body camera on him, and you can see me talking to (the suspect), telling him to go back into the house because he's intoxicated.

“He was not complying to an order to go into the house or you're going to be arrested for being drunk in public,” Wilson said. “That shows him being non-compliant.”

The indictment involving the misuse of official information charge alleged that Wilson in May 2018 released criminal history information of Jeremy Collins to a woman for non-governmental purposes.

“(She) is a probation officer I used to date,” Wilson said. “She's claiming I gave her criminal background checks on these guys. I simply questioned the quality of men she was dating.”

A Bertram police officer at the time alleged that he experienced an encounter with Wilson involving the release of criminal background information.

Wilson alleged that the officer “ran a plate” due to the suspicious activity of on an individual with ties to the chief's ex-girlfriend.

33rd/424th Judicial District Attorney Wiley (“Sonny”) McAfee offered a statement about Wilson’s comments regarding the DA’s office.

“Neither my investigator nor I ever worked with Mr. Wilson although we were employed by the same agency at one time,” McAfee said in the statement. “In fact, neither my investigator nor I knew Mr. Wilson until we met him as the Chief of Police of Bertram.”

He added that his office does not take a “personal” stance on cases.

“Cases that are presented to a grand jury are based upon facts documented through investigations and witnesses that testify before the grand jury. Personal feelings about persons investigated do not weigh in favor of presenting or not presenting cases,” according to the DA’s statement. “The grand jury gets to review facts and ask questions of any witnesses testifying. My office attempts to present the clearest picture of the case including any defenses claimed during the investigation, any downsides to the investigation and any relationships of parties to the investigation.”

The statement added that the process of building a case may take time.

“Once the case was opened, it remained open until the presentment of the indictment to the grand jury on October 2, 2018,” the statement read.

“My office supports law enforcement 100 percent, and we are proud of the many men and women that do an excellent job of providing service and protection for the citizens of our communities. When there are complaints concerning criminal conduct by public servants, we will ensure those concerns are investigated.

“The investigations into the current allegations were conducted to ensure the accountability of those charged with and sworn to the service of our community,” the statement added.

Despite the indictments, Wilson added that he has received an outpouring of support from the community.

“I'm still employed with the police department,” he said. “The city council agreed to keep me. The citizens have shown a lot of support. People see it for what it really is.”

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