NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - In the wake of the former Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office chief deputy accepting a pre-trial diversion in connection to perjury charges that were filed against him in 2016, the sheriff announced Monday that Stephen Godfrey has been reassigned within the NCSO.
According to a press release, the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office has completed its internal investigation into the allegations against Godfrey.
Godfrey, who has been reassigned to investigations on misdemeanors and conducting civil process, returned to work at the sheriff's office Monday, the press release stated.
"NCSO has investigated this matter and looked into Stephen's degree, his degree plan and his court testimony during two different instances in a suppression hearing," the press release stated. "The Sheriff Office has reviewed a detailed statement from which Stephen passed a polygraph examination, along with speaking with his college counselor at the time. The Sheriff Office has also spoken with other expert witnesses."
The press release also stated, "There is no question Stephen Godfrey did misrepresent his degree." Godfrey finished the degree over the course of a 10-year period, the press release stated.
"Stephen maintains he testified based on his understanding about what his degree emphasized, and that the college credits granted him for 'life credits' were in the academic fields of psychology and criminal justice," the press release stated.
In the press release, Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges said that is his duty to do the right thing and what he believes is in the best interest for the citizens and the community. He added that he doesn't believe Godfrey had any intent to deceive anyone about his degree.
"I have always believed Stephen to be an honest and trustworthy person and so have many people in our community," Bridges said in the press release. "I also believe that everyone must be held accountable for their actions or mistakes."
Bridges explained that Godfrey will be on a six-month probation at the sheriff's office. Captain Bill Ball has been named as the new chief deputy for the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office.
"We understand the anguish that this has placed on our community, law enforcement, Stephen and his young family the past eight months," Bridges said. " Stephen has been a great role model and law enforcement officer in our community for over 20 years who has made a difference and impact in our community."
Godfrey was indicted on the charges in August of 2016. The indictment states Godfrey lied about his college degrees during a suppression hearing on Jan. 15, 2015, and again during a suppression hearing on Dec. 4, 2015. He allegedly stated both times that he had bachelor's degrees in criminal justice and psychology.
"I'm not admitting to any crime," Godfrey told the East Texas News in a previous story. "I haven't pleaded guilty to any any crime because I did not commit a crime. I gave an explanation of what I said, and I'm ready for this to be over."
According to Nacogdoches County District Attorney Nicole LoStracco, Godfrey's indictment will remain pending until the six-month pre-trial diversion ends. LoStracco said that Godfrey will report to the Nacogdoches Probation Department by mail on a monthly basis.
Godfrey will also be required to pay $300 in court fees and a $60 probation fee each month.
The NCSO chief deputy was also required to a sign a state of stipulation statement, LoStracco said.
In the the statement, Godfrey said that he testified under oath at suppression hearings in the 145th Judicial District Court on Jan 15 and Dec. 4 of 2015 that he had a psychology degree from Stephen F. Austin State University. He also said he testified that he is an instructor for the El Paso Intelligence Center and the Drug Interdiction Assistance Program.
"I now understand those statements were not accurate," Godfrey said in the statement.
Godfrey wrote that he does not have a degree in psychology.
"My degree is a bachelor of applied arts and sciences with a concentration in public safety and a professional development in private security," Godfrey said in the statement.
David Dobbs, Godfrey's defense attorney, said Godfrey's statement should not be interpreted as an admission of guilt.
"If you look at the statement, the last sentence indicates that he continues to insist that he had no intent to deceive anybody, which means he did not commit an offense. Consistent with his polygraph results."
LoStracco said her office, Godfrey, and his defense attorney have been talking about all of the options for the past eight months. She said Godfrey and his defense attorney approached her Tuesday and requested the pre-trial diversion. However, Godfrey and Dobbs dispute that claim. Dobbs said he offered up the pretrial diversion months ago, but prosecutors weren't receptive to the proposal.
The pre-trial diversion was the result of a seven-hour meeting.
LoStracco said her office found additional possible charges against Godfrey, and they were prepared to present it to the grand jury. She said they pursued the perjury case because it was easier.
Once the pre-trial diversion is completed, the charges won't go off Godfrey's record until he files a motion of expunction. LoStracco said she won't contest the motion of expunction once it is filed.
LoStracco said that Godfrey has been "Brady listed," which basically means he will never be able to testify in a felony case in Nacogdoches County as long as LoStracco is the district attorney. It also means that other counties could prevent him from testifying in criminal cases as well.