APRIL 6TH, LONGVIEW NEWS JOURNAL
The allegations are not directly related to Fowler’s case where he is charged with abuse of official capacity and official oppression for removing a man from the commissioners court meeting.
Fowler’s attorneys cannot provide a response to the new motions because they are under a gag order issued by the district court.
All 14 pieces of evidence introduced in the filing center around the county’s contract with its bank depository, First National Bank of Gilmer, and court proceedings in which Fowler represented the bank, according to the motion.
Prosecutor Rick Hagan, who took over after District Attorney Billy Byrd recused himself, cites that Fowler represented the bank in prior court proceedings and “signed court pleadings on behalf of First National Bank of Gilmer” and therefore had a conflict of interest in the depository contract.
The court pleadings Fowler signed on behalf of the bank are from April and November 2008, according to the motion.
Hagan’s motion said Fowler should have filed an affidavit in the county clerk’s office stating his conflict of interest.
Fowler did not vote on the bank depository contract, according to minutes from the May 29, 2009, Commissioners Court meeting. The four commissioners voted unanimously on the contract and Fowler’s vote was not required. The 2009 minutes also note that Treasurer Myra Harris met with the bank regarding the contract.
First National Bank of Gilmer was also the only bank to provide a bid to the county in 2009, according to the Commissioners Court meeting from that date.
Hagan first introduced his motion to present evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts against Fowler in March when he accused Fowler of acts of “negligent performance,” “juror misconduct,” and “official oppression” dating back to 1995 and are not directly tied to the present case.
Fowler faces charges along with Sheriff Anthony Betterton and Commissioner Lloyd Crabtree.
The three men are set for a pre-trial hearing at 10 a.m. April 13 in Upshur County’s 115th District Court. Visiting Judge Richard Davis is expected to consider all motions that have been filed in the three cases. Other motions filed by Hagan include a change of venue and to combine prosecution of Fowler and Crabtree’s cases. Motions filed by Fowler, Betterton and Crabtree’s attorneys include motions to dismiss and quash each case, including accusing Byrd in the motions of prosecutorial misconduct.