Ahead of Constable Henry Jackson’s sentencing hearing, 14 community members, including some local officials, submitted reference letters praising his character and service to the community and asking for leniency in his sentencing.
The sentencing hearing for Jackson, who serves Smith Count Precinct 1, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday before Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell.
As part of a plea agreement, Jackson is facing a sentencing range from three to six months for charges related to failing to pay four years of income tax.
Under federal statutes, Jackson could have faced up to a year in federal prison for each of the four counts at sentencing.
Those who submitted letters of character reference to the court include: the Rev. Darryl Bowdre, Tyler District 2 City Councilman and senior minister at The Church of Christ at South Central; the Rev. Orenthia Mason, who is a Tyler ISD District 2 board member; VaLita Waits, a local attorney; and Le Roy Francis Sr., owner, president and funeral director at Community Funeral Home of Tyler.
Jackson’s supporters ask the judge to consider his longtime leadership in the community and his investment in its young people through his work in law enforcement.
Jackson has served on TISD’s former tri-ethnic committee and the Tyler Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
In a separate memo to the judge, attorney Michael P. Heiskell of Fort Worth contends “that the minimum of three months is sufficient to meet the goals of sentencing and would be more in compliance with the sentencing factors.”
Heiskell writes Jackson is remorseful and contrite and by pleading guilty made the important decision to not force a trial.
He said he has made full restitution to the IRS, has a low risk of recidivism and has many health issues that should be considered when determining the sentence.
“The health of this 65-year-old is perilous,” Heiskell writes. “His physical condition, numerous medications and his mental health raise concerns about the propriety of his incarceration exceeding a three month period.”
According to the court, Jackson, 65, pleaded guilty to information in May. That means he was presented with the information and decided to plead, instead of taking it to the grand jury.
According to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, Jackson, 65, and his wife, Meraland, failed to pay $157,489 in federal taxes from 2010 to 2013. That’s before any additional fines and penalties.
In addition to working as a constable, Jackson also owns rental properties and consults and works for a private security firm - Fail Safe Security.
The private company, which has been in operation since 2008, is owned by Jackson’s wife and daughter, court documents show.
In 2010, the Jacksons had a gross income of $220,000, in which no taxes were paid. The IRS concludes $56,403 was owed, after deductions adjustments and credits.
Jackson has served as Precinct 1 constable since 1999, and prior to that he served with the Tyler Police Department from 1977 to 1983. From 1997 to 1998 he was a reserve deputy for the Constable Precinct 3 office.
Jackson was re-elected to his constable post in November 2016 with no opposition, and his term ends December 2020.
In addition to the judge’s sentence, Jackson's peace officer license could be suspended or revoked depending on the outcome of the case. Texas Commission on Law Enforcement would make the decision.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan.
Staff Writers LouAnna Campbell and Faith Harper contributed to this report.