Two former sheriff’s deputies indicted on abuse of power charges

Former Erath County Chief Deputy Jason Upshaw (at left) and former Captain Randy Fowler were suspended from duty following the appointment of Sheriff Matt Coates. They were later released from their positions entirely and were facing charges stemming from the TCOLE investigation into abuse of power and perjury. However, the AG has dropped the charges against the two. || Flash file photo

February 21, 2019

ERATH COUNTY – It’s been a long investigation – including a death, a lawsuit, one man was cleared of all charges and now, two others face charges of abuse of power and aggravated perjury. 

According to county officials, two former sheriff’s department officers – Jason Upshaw (chief deputy) and Randy Fowler (captain) – were indicted on Wednesday after Texas AG officials presented their case to an Erath County Grand Jury. 

These charges stem from the investigation into the department while under the direction of former Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant. During the course of that investigation several members of the department were suspended and then let go from their positions including Upshaw and Fowler as well as Bobby Mendez, who was later cleared of all charges and is now serving as the police chief in Dublin. 

Following their release from the department, Upshaw and Fowler sued the county commissioners – Dee Stephens, Herbert Brown, Joe Brown and Scot Jackson – as well as new sheriff Matt Coates in 2017 in federal court for depriving them of due process and their civil rights. Time will tell how these indictments will effect those claims and the suits against county officials.

UPDATE (2/21/19 4:45 p.m.): Upshaw and Fowler were booked into the Erath County Jail Wednesday afternoon on two charges each and walked through, which means they were immediately released on bonds and not required to spend any actual time behind bars. According to county officials, they were released on $10,000 bond each ($5,000 per charge).



  1. I don’t know Randy Fowler but I have known Jason Upshaw since he was a kid, picking up his dad’s irrigation pipe at Wright Irrigation. He was raised up right and to be respectful. I believe he is innocent until they prove other wise.

  2. I am SOOO confuse! Who the hell are you supposed to trust?? And, I’m not talking about these two guys!! Smh!!

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