A trial for a former Smith County constable accused of felony theft and other crimes will go forward Oct. 1 after Judge Jack Skeen Jr. refused to dismiss the charges Thursday as the prosecutor requested.
Each charge of abuse of official capacity carries up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. The third-degree felony theft, for allegedly using taxpayer dollars to illegally run a security business for benefit, carries up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
“I don't believe it to be appropriate in this case; this court has never approved a pretrial diversion,” Skeen said, referring to the motion to dismiss. “This court has never approved a pretrial diversion. The motions to dismiss say nothing about the insufficiency of evidence.
“What this amounts to is a motion to dismiss two felony indictments,” the judge said in court.
Skeen said the charges would be consolidated after Larison filed a motion to do so.
Skeen told Larison he wasn't questioning Larison's integrity in filing the motion to dismiss Rust's charges. Skeen noted that he has known Larison personally for many years.
But Skeen said Rust would be serving one year of probation under a “pretrial diversion” if he granted the motion to dismiss, instead of serving under an adjudicated sentence that allowed the judicial process to take place.
Larison argued in court before the judge made his decision that Rust had “done everything that had been required of him,” including paying the $7,698 in restitution for the time and cost of vehicles used by deputy constables while on duty with the county and working security.
Larison also said Rust met regularly with his probation officer, and he had a signed judicial confession that he could use against Rust if Rust violated any conditions of his probation.
Defense attorneys Kelly Pace and John Haring agreed with Larison, saying in court that he “had proposed a fair agreement” for their client.
“This is the same agreement that would have been proposed by (Smith County District Attorney) Matt Bingham had the interviews not happened,” Haring said in court, referring to some television interviews his client gave in the past.
Haring said in court that Rust was “paying the price,” and mentioned that several other law enforcement officers who had participated in the security business with Rust had not been arrested or prosecuted.
There is a restrictive and protective order in place on the Rust case, so no one associated with the case may comment on it.
On May 29, Rust finished last in a four-candidate primary race. Jim Blackmon, a Bullard police officer, eventually won the July 31 runoff and was sworn in by Smith County commissioners in August to fill Rust's unexpired term. Blackmon will begin the full term, for which he was elected, on Jan. 1.
Rust said at the time of his resignation that he would be going to work for another law enforcement agency, but declined to specify which one.
There was no information in the motion about whether Rust would be able to retain his license with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. In order to work as a licensed peace officer in Texas, an individual must have a current TCLEOSE license, according to the commission's website.