A former Upshur County Commissioner and his son were indicted by a county Grand Jury Friday and charged with multiple felonies each in connection with an incident Saturday, Oct. 6, in which county Game Warden Shane Bailey was allegedly disarmed and held at gunpoint while he was making a routine check on private property for game-law violations. (Game wardens in Texas are allowed to go on either private or public land to check for game-law violations.)
The incident occurred on wooded land Lloyd Crabtree owns on the Sabine River south of Big Sandy.
115th District Judge Lauren Parish, who set initial bonds at a total of $1.5 million each on Lloyd and his son Todd Crabtree, will hear a motion Thursday from their lawyer, Clifton “Scrappy” Holmes of Longview, that the bonds be lowered.
At the time of the alleged incident, Bailey used his cell phone to summon help, and several other local and state law enforcement officers came to the scene.
Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd said that responding officers were also threatened by Lloyd Crabtree.
The Crabtrees surrendered, and were jailed without any shots being fired or injuries.
Originally, they were released under $40,000 property bonds.
Byrd said that after the Grand Jury indictments, the Crabtrees were rearrested on additional charges, involving those concerning alleged threats to the other lawmen, and the new bonds reflected that.
Holmes, attorney for the Crabtrees, filed a motion for bond reduction on Monday.
He said the $1.5 million total bonds on each man was exorbitant, saying that both are life-long Upshur County residents with no criminal history.
He said that the bonds were higher than all but a few people could make, and that the fee on each bond alone would be $150,000.
While the TPWD press release sent out after the indictments were issued said there were five felony indictments against Lloyd Crabtree and three against Todd Crabtree, the Upshur County Jail web site showed three against each suspect.
The bonds shown for each include $1 million for aggravated assault on a public servant, and $250,000 on each charge of disarming an officer and unlawful restraint of a public servant.
Byrd said that the charges against Lloyd Crabtree shown on the jail site did not include duplicate charges for threatening the other officers.
Lloyd Crabtree served eight years as Pct. 3 Commissioner. He was defeated by Frank Berka in last March’s Republican Party primary, and left office at the end of December.
Byrd said he expected the case to come to trial in the near future, within the next few months.
On Friday, after the Gand Jury action, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sent a press release about the indictments to all newspapers in the state, and posted it on its web site.
The original TPWD press release (edited for style) follows:
“AUSTIN—An Upshur County grand jury returned multiple felony indictments Friday, including two first-degree counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, naming a father and son accused of holding a state game warden at gunpoint last October.
“All the indictments stem from an Oct. 6 incident in which Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden Shane Bailey was disarmed and detained by two armed men while the officer was making a routine check for hunting law violations on private property in Upshur County.
“The warden used his cell phone to call for help, and soon numerous local and state officers came to his assistance and ended the situation with no shots fired.
“Lloyd Allen Crabtree, 51, a former county commissioner in Upshur County, was named in five felony indictments, including three counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer (first-degree felony); one count of taking a weapon from a peace officer (third- degree felony) and one count of unlawful restraint with a deadly weapon (third-degree felony).
“Crabtree’s son, Todd A. Crabtree, 28, was indicted on three felony charges: One count of aggravated assault on a peace officer (first-degree felony); one count of taking a weapon from a peace officer (third-degree felony); and one count of unlawful restraint with a deadly weapon (third- degree felony).
“The attorney for the two men notified them Friday afternoon that arrests warrants had been issued and they turned themselves in at the Upshur County Jail a short time later. They remained in jail Friday night in lieu of $1.5 million bond each.
“The incident last fall was investigated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Internal Affairs Unit and the Texas Rangers.
“ ‘We really appreciate the hard work on the part of our Internal Affairs officers, the Texas Rangers and Upshur County District Attorney’s Office that went into this investigation,’ said Col. Craig Hunter, TPWD’s Law Enforcement Division director. ‘While this case still has to make its way through the judicial process, we hope these indictments will send a strong message that incidents such as this one will not be tolerated by law-abiding Texans.’ ”