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Sheriff William Travis case under review

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Staff report

Testimony continues before grand jury of allegations against sheriff

Testimony continued before a Denton County grand jury Thursday in connection to allegations that Denton County Sheriff William Travis tried to bribe a political opponent to quit an election and a former deputy into abandoning a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office, people with knowledge of the proceedings told the Denton Record-Chronicle.

The Texas Rangers’ investigation of Travis became public in early August after a search warrant was issued for Precinct 1 Constable Jesse Flores’ cellphone records after he told an investigator the phone contained exchanges between him and Travis.

The search warrant affidavit suggested Travis wanted Flores out of the sheriff’s race to avoid a costly runoff. Flores did not drop out of the race.

The other bribery allegation involves a long-running lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office in which former Deputy Kevin Bragg alleges wrongdoing.

The Aug. 8 warrant for Flores’ cellphone records also suggests that Travis, before he was officially sworn into office, was intent on getting the lawsuit filed by Bragg dropped, even though it was against previous Sheriff Benny Parkey, who held the sheriff’s position for two terms.

Bragg had filed suit after losing his job with the department. He said he was a whistleblower exposing wrongdoing by deputies in the suit that was recently dismissed.

Neither man was hired by Travis. Flores, who was formerly a Lewisville police officer, was later appointed constable after his predecessor, Jim Dotson, died.

The sheriff told Texas Ranger James Holland, who investigated the allegations, that he made no job offer to Flores in exchange for him dropping out of the election. Travis told Holland the exchanges with Bragg were misunderstandings.

The bribery allegations came to the attention of investigators through a lawyer for Bragg. Bragg is now a police officer in the Wise County town of Runaway Bay.

Flores, who was called before the grand jury last week, said he was under court order not to discuss his role in the investigation and refused comment. He had denied the sheriff had tried to bribe him but was vague in other answers, investigators said.

Sources say Chief Deputy Rex George with the Sheriff’s Office was called to testify before the grand jury Thursday. George told Texas Rangers that he advised Travis to avoid Bragg because he had a lawsuit pending against the department.

Both George and Holland were seen at the Denton County Courthouse on Thursday.