Nacogdoches County chief deputy accused of perjury accepts pre-trial diversion
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Stephen Godfrey, the chief deputy with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office has accepted a six-month pre-trial diversion in connection to the third-degree felony aggravated perjury charges that were filed against him in 2016.
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 Wednesday. "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.
Godfrey also said in the statement that he now understands that requirements for a degree in psychology in 2002 called for a student to complete 21 core psychology courses, "including but not limited to (5) 400-level courses and (2) 300-level courses."
"I completed (1) 100-level course and (1) 300-level course," Godfrey said in the statement. "My college credits do not not meet the requirements for a degree in psychology."
In the statement, Godfrey seemed to address other possible allegations as well.
"I was previously an instructor for DIAP, but my certification expired, and I did not seek re-certification after DIAP and EPIC separated into two separate entities," Godfrey wrote in the statement. "Therefore I am not currently a certified instructor for DIAP. I now understand that to be currently considered an instructor for DIAP, I would have to have taken their re-certification course within the past 12 months or taught a DIAP course within the preceding 12 months of my testimony. I have not met either of those requirements since at least 2006."
At the end of the statement, Godfrey wrote that he understood the state is alleging that he provided inaccurate testimony with the intent to deceive, but he was standing by his contention that he was "simply mistaken" in his testimony.
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.
In an interview Wednesday morning, Dobbs said that his client's employment status may still be in question because Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges plans to conduct an internal investigation of the allegations Godfrey.
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