Precinct 1 Constable Henry Jackson was sentenced to six months in federal prison, followed by a year of probation for failing to pay four years of federal income taxes.
Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell imposed the sentence in federal court Tuesday.
In addition, she ordered Jackson to pay $157,489 in restitution to the IRS, almost all of which he had paid.
In addition to the judge’s sentence, Jackson's peace officer license could be suspended or revoked. The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), the governing body that oversees licensing, would make the decision.
Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran says the Commissioners Court has no authority to remove Jackson.
"He's an independently elected official," Moran said. "So we can't remove him from office."
Moran expects that the Precinct 1 Constable's Office will run itself, much as other offices have functioned while the office-holders were on medical leave.
But the county has reached out to TCOLE and will watch to see what that agency does. If TCOLE revokes Jackson's peace officer license, the court would revisit the matter.
"But my understanding is that these are four misdemeanor charges," Moran said, making revocation uncertain. "But if Constable Jackson was to voluntarily vacate his office, then the Commissioners Court would appoint a replacement."
Jackson, 65, pleaded guilty in May to failing 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 Smith County 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.
Under federal statutes, Jackson could have faced up to a year in federal prison for each of the four counts.
However, as part of a plea agreement Jackson faced a sentence ranging from three to six months for the charges.
Jackson’s attorney Michael P. Heiskell, of Fort Worth, cited his client’s medical issues, age, low risk for recidivism and long history of community and law enforcement service as reasons he should receive the minimum three-month sentence.
He also said his client had made almost full restitution to the IRS minus $489 he learned about Tuesday.
“He’s made every effort to compensate for his wrongs,” Heiskell said in court.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan, the federal prosecutor, said the parties in the case took into account Jackson’s community and public service, family situation, health conditions and age when discussing the plea agreement and just punishment.
In addition, he said, three to six months is already below sentencing guidelines — which call for a 12- to 18-month sentence for this crime.
Coan asked the judge to follow the probation officer’s recommendation and impose a six-month sentence.
“This case illustrates how no person is above the law,” Coan said.
Jackson has requested to serve his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville, which is about 20 miles southeast of downtown Dallas.
The judge said she would make that recommendation, however, the Federal Bureau of Prisons will make the final decision.
Jackson is required to voluntarily surrender within 45 days. His attorney said they would not appeal the sentence.
Although Jackson declined to comment after the sentencing hearing, he did make a statement during the hearing.
He apologized to his family for putting them in this position and said he accepted responsibility for his actions.
“That was an error that I need to correct,” he said. “I apologize to the court and I will accept your sentence in a positive way.”
About 16 people attended the hearing in support of Jackson, including family members and officials with his Precinct 1 Constable’s office.
Some of these same people submitted reference letters to the judge in advance of Tuesday’s hearing praising Jackson’s character and service to the community and asking for leniency in his sentencing.
Jackson has served as Precinct 1 constable since 1999, and, in November 2016, was re-elected to his constable post with no opposition. His term ends December 2020.
Senior Editor Roy Maynard and reporter Faith Harper contributed to this report.