GOODRICH, TX (KTRE) - Authorities in San Jacinto County arrested the Goodrich mayor on felony theft and tampering with government record charges stemming from a Polk County grand jury indictment.
Goodrich Mayor Jeremy Wayne Harper was arrested on two state-jail felony theft charges and two state-jail felony tampering with a government record charges. Collectively, his bail amount has been set at $12,500.
According to the text of the indictment East Texas News obtained Tuesday, Harper is accused of stealing less than $2,500 worth of road base material from the City of Goodrich on April 1.
The theft charges were upgraded to state-jail felonies because Harper was convicted of theft greater than $500 in Louisiana's Natchitoches Parish on June 14, 1999. He was also convicted of issuing a worthless check in Louisiana's Rapides Parish on Dec. 5, 1994.
The indictment for the tampering with a government record charges states that on Feb. 25, 2015, Harper fraudulently stated on his election application that he had not be convicted of a felony on his application. Count Two states that he made a false statement under oath with the application.
"I think what is happening is a great injustice because Jeremy has been good for this town," said Goodrich resident James Clark. "This town has grown."
"I don't really understand why they filed them in the first place," Clark said. "The DA was informed about things by the previous administration and he didn't do anything about it."
The mayor himself is saying he's not going down without a fight.
"We intend on fighting this tooth and nail, because this is more politically motivated and driven than it is anything," Harper said.
Answering to allegations that he was stealing the city's electricity to pay for the house he was building, Harper has an excuse.
"I have a receipt for where I paid for the electricity and it stated 9/8," Harper said, referring to the date on the receipt.
And as for the other two indictments, including lying about felony charges, his attorney will be addressing these questions in court. But for now, his message remains the same.
"I would certainly not do anything to harm this community and these citizens know that and if you talk to those people they will tell you," Harper said. "Good always prevails, and people know my heart here."
It may be a city divided, but those standing behind Harper say they don't want to see him go anywhere anytime soon…
"Maybe when all this comes to a head, that the truth will come out, Jeremy is an honorable man," Clark said. "Those trying to oust him as mayor will find out their own shortcomings."