SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Up until six months ago, San Augustine County didn't have a computerized record of issued warrants. After a string of hot checks repeatedly written to local businesses throughout the county, Sheriff David Smith decided it was time for a change.
It took Tina Elumbaugh five years to collect her money from a hot check written to her business. "Matter of fact it was 2 weeks ago I received my check," she said.
"Because no one could tell me, ever tell me, if there was a warrant issued," said Elumbaugh. "I would call the sheriff's office and ask and they'd say well we don't show in the computer there's been a warrant issued."
That's because a record didn't exist. Before Sheriff David Smith took office in January of this year, San Augustine County didn't keep record of issued warrants.
"It was kind of surprising that the warrants weren't entered into the system," said Sheriff David Smith, San Augustine Sheriff Department.
"I don't know if it's a corruption or if nobody's watching each other and nobody cares," said Elumbaugh.
Times have changed. Sheriff Smith said he's collected on warrants from Oklahoma to California. "When you issue a warrant for someone, they should be brought in, and when they write a bad check to one of our local businesses, it's our duty to enter them into the system so that we can help our local businesses collect," said Sheriff Smith.
Now, that offenders are actually being held accountable, the county is collecting on the fines. "We had a lot of debt when I came into office, and that was one of my goals," said Sheriff Smith.
Elumbaugh said she's just getting started. "Now, I'm going to try to collect on the rest of them that I have & see if I can get them."
Sheriff Smith said you won't get away with writing a bad check in his county. He said since the warrant system has been implemented, they've made numerous arrests on old warrants.