By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (November 14, 2016) – Three of eight individuals involved in a crime ring busted by Erath County officials in late 2015 entered guilty pleas in the 266th Judicial District Court on Monday.
Tillman Cole McCamey, 24, and Jeffery Ryan Owens, 35, each plead guilty to engaging in organized criminal activity (EOCA) – forgery. Jennifer Ann Maldonado, 31, plead guilty to a lesser forgery.
The defendants were among nine suspects arrested for involvement with an Erath County counterfeit operation that reportedly produced a large amount of U.S. currency. The United States Secret Service was one of several agencies involved in the investigation, and one suspect, Daniel Fry, was taken into federal custody.
The investigative effort included hours of surveillance, numerous interviews, the execution of several search warrants, interviews with local business owners and seizure of electronic devices.
Members of the crime ring were also reportedly linked to more than 30 other crimes, ranging from thefts to drug-related offenses, according to information from the office of Sheriff Tommy Bryant in December 2015.
In addition to the forgery charge, McCamey was indicted for possession of methamphetamine. He has remained in the Erath County Jail since December 1 of last year. He was represented by Stephenville attorney Landon Northcutt.
McCamey was sentenced to eight years in a Texas prison on Monday EOCA, a second-degree felony, and 18 months on the drug possession charge.
Owens faced an enhanced charge due to a criminal history that includes previous prison time. He has been held in the Erath County Jail on a parole violation since June.
He plead guilty to first-degree EOCA and was sentenced to another 10 years in prison on Monday. Owens was represented by defense attorney Angie Hadley.
Maldonado received eight years deferred adjudication probation for involvement in the crime spree. She has the opportunity to avoid having her involvement with the crime on her criminal record by adhering to the strict terms outlined in her probationary agreement.
Co-defendant Ashley Warner, who also has a lengthy arrest record and was represented by Shay Isham, was sentenced to eight years in prison after entering a guilty plea in a previous proceeding.
The case against Michael Day is pending, according to court records. Charges against three other men who were initially arrested for their connection with crime ring were not taken before a grand jury after further investigation by the office of District Attorney Alan Nash did not substantiate the EOCA charges.