Sunday 01 February 2015

Cook: Judicial System Is Broken

Precinct 3 Constable Rob Cook says the conviction of Precinct 3 Deputy Constable Timothy Yerrow for theft by a public servant is proof the judicial system is broken.

“In the latest (Fort Bend County) District Attorney race, there was a quote that said ‘when you are a victim of a crime, that’s really a horrible thing – when you are a victim of the justice system, that’s even worse,’” said Cook. “And I feel like that is what happened. It’s just real sad.”

Yerrow was working at Exxon Mobile Chemical off the Katy Freeway. He had worked the second job since 1990, and in 2004 was promoted to operations supervisor, a position that earned him $1 more an hour than the other security guards.

After an internal audit by Exxon Mobile in 2007, Yerrow was accused of falsifying his time sheet, adding more than $16,000 to his paychecks from 2004 to 2007. He was indicted in 2007 and found guilty by a Harris County jury last week. He was sentenced to four years probation, and his attorney has filed a motion to appeal the verdict.

Cook doesn’t deny that Yerrow changed his time sheet. According to Cook, Yerrow was just doing what he was told to do by his supervisor.

“I heard the man in question, who told him what to do,” said Cook. “I heard him, and there were other people ready to testify that they heard him.”

The supervisor died before Yerrow was indicted.

Cook said it is common practice for Exxon security personnel, as well as in other businesses, for people to add additional hours they worked above and beyond the actual time they clocked in and out.

“And that’s what he did – he put down the amount of time he was involved in handling this situation,” said Cook. “Fifteen to 20 deputies and a logistical nightmare with keeping up with who is sick, who is off, all the while trying to make sure Exxon had people there.”

According to Yerrow’s attorney Neal Davis the judge did not allow testimony regarding the oral agreement.

“We were fighting with one hand tied behind our back,” said Davis.

Cook said he and others were waiting outside the room as the Grand Jury convened in 2007, ready to testify on Yerrow’s behalf. They were never called in the room.

“Nobody ever came and asked me anything,” said Cook. “They wouldn’t talk to anybody.”

“It’s really sad,” said Cook. “The jury did their job based on not enough information. If I were a juror, I would be ticked off. I would feel like I had been used. Like I had just convicted a man and I didn’t have all the information.”

Cook said he has received some criticism for putting Yerrow on paid administrative leave since Yerrow’s indictment, but said not only is that what county officials told him to do, it is what he is obligated to do.

He said the county would have been susceptible to a lawsuit if he fired someone before they had been convicted of a crime.

It is common practice in municipalities for indicted employees to be put on paid administrative leave prior to their trial.

Last year, Bellaire Police Sergeant Jeffrey Cotton was placed on paid administrative leave after he was indicted for shooting a Bellaire resident in his front yard. Cotton was acquitted of the charges this year, and is back on active duty.

“Innocent until proven guilty,” said Cook. “Silly little things like that, that are in the constitution.”

Cook contacted Yerrow in February about some of the phone calls he was receiving about the leave. Yerrow chose to retire.

Cook said the entire incident should never have happened in the first place.

“Here is a guy, two boys under the age of ten…35-year law enforcement veteran, never a blemish,” said Cook. “I have known this man for over 30 years. There is no way he would steal. It’s a really sad deal. It never should have happened, he never should have been indicted, but no one would listen to the information.”