Ex-Bertram chief pleads guilty, gives up license

Connie Swinney

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

A former Bertram police chief has pled guilty to oppression and abuse, surrendered his peace officer's license, received an eight-day jail sentence, and exhibited “remorse” which influencing his judge-ordered penalty, officials said.

James J. (JJ) Wilson will face four days in jail on each of two counts of official oppression and five years probation on one count of abuse of official capacity, according to a release by the 33rd/424th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

As part of the plea on June 6, Wilson must permanently surrender his peace officer license, pay a $500 fine and $50 restitution to the subject of the charge.

“At Wilson’s plea, [he] apologized to any Burnet County employees that he may have hurt by his actions or remarks, and he apologized to the district attorney and the chief investigator of the District Attorney’s Office for the lies he told at the beginning of the investigation,” according to the DA's statement.

Wilson's attorney, in a phone interview with The Highlander, Bristol Myers reiterated the prosecutor's perspective on the outcome.

“He is remorseful and he did express that on the record,” said Myers said.

“Substance abuse can reach everyone, even a police chief. He lost everything career-wise,” he added. “He has some broken relationships out there he will be looking to mend.”

424th Judicial District Judge Evan Stubbs presided over the sentencing.

The official oppression charges stemmed from an incident on Aug. 8, 2017 at 3100 block FM 2657 near Briggs, several miles outside of Wilson’s jurisdiction.

The incident involved a truck driver who lost part of his hay load on the roadway. Wilson was accused of seizing the hay and threatening the driver with the loss of his commercial license. He was indicted on the charges.

Following his indictment, Wilson continued serving as Bertram police chief pending disposition of his cases.

On Oct. 24 Wilson crashed his police vehicle on FM 1431 East of Marble Falls while off duty. Department of Public Safety troopers charged him with driving while intoxicated.

He was subsequently indicted on an abuse of official capacity charge for consuming alcohol and damaging the city vehicle.

“The driving while intoxicated charge was considered in the punishment for the other offenses, and Wilson pleaded guilty to the felony charge of abuse of official capacity arising out of the same incident,” the DA's statement read. “Wilson and the City of Bertram then agreed that Wilson would leave as chief after paying damages for the patrol vehicle prior to Wilson’s sentencing.”

Following his plea sentence, Wilson turned himself into the Burnet County Jail on June 18 and was released the following day for “past time served” for his eight-day sentence, according to jail documents.

“I think he's happy to have everything behind him,” Myers said. “He will have a positive impact on a community where he lands in the future.”

The charges were the result of investigations by the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers and the District Attorney’s Office.

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