Former Olton city administrator felony charges dismissed, Tillma

Former Olton city administrator felony charges dismissed, Tillman pays restitution

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(Press Release)

Two third degree felony theft charges and a misdemeanor theft complaint against Marvin Tillman were dismissed Nov. 2 after the former Olton city administrator agreed to pay $11,574 in restitution to the City of Olton.

That payment was made last Friday and delivered to the City of Olton the same day. 

Lamb County District Attorney Scott Say said the agreement required Tillman to pay the maximum allowable under the law based on the statute of limitations imposed by sporadic payments the former city administrator made, including one shortly before he was indicted by a Lamb County grand jury last year.

Lubbock defense attorney Daniel Hurley, who represented Tillman, had been in negotiations with the Lamb County District Attorneys Office for months. An agreement became a possibility after it became clear some current and former members of the Olton City Council, as well as at least one city official, would likely testify on behalf Tillman, who was terminated two months after his arrest on the felony theft charges.

Following a months-long investigation conducted by the Texas Rangers, Tillman was indicted May 4, 2017 and arrested at his rural Lamb County home the next day. The two third-degree felony indictments alleged theft of property greater than $2,500 but less than $30,000. A third felony complaint alleged the former city manager impersonated a police officer.  That charge was dropped in October 2017 after a motion for a speedy trial caused the setting of a trial date at a time when the Texas Ranger who conducted the investigation was tied up in a murder trial in Fort Worth. Three witnesses for the prosecution had also moved away from the area at that time.

Following the dismissals last Friday, the Olton Enterprise filed a request under the Texas Public Information Act seeking access to all documents and information regarding the investigation, indictment and settlement of the criminal cases against Tillman. As a result of that request, the newspaper has received a copy of the report stemming from the investigation conducted by the Texas Rangers, as well as other documents and materials, including hours of audio and video interviews conducted during the course of the investigation. Tillman, municipal employees, members of the Olton City Council and persons close to Tillman were interviewed. Bank records were collected from two financial institutions and a host of water usage and billing information were collected in the investigation. 

The Olton Enterprise is in the process of analyzing that information for more in-depth stories at a later date.

However, the newspaper has already learned that the Texas Rangers investigation began after the city’s annual 2016 audit discovered approximately 300,000 gallons of water missing. That led to the discovery that a water meter on or next to land Tillman cash-leased from the city had been removed from the books by someone at some point.

City Secretary Lynnette DeBerry made the Olton Police Department aware of the situation in January 2017. Due to concerns about a possible conflict of interest, Sgt. Taylor Manross contacted the Texas Rangers, who referred him to the Lamb County District Attorney’s Office. Say instructed Manross to take a report from DeBerry, and with that complaint in hand, the district attorney requested the Texas Rangers investigation.

Manross resigned his position with the Olton Police Department shortly after filing his report. The materials the Olton Enterprise has received also includes interviews conducted with Manross as well as former Police Chief Joe Banda, who was terminated by a vote of the Olton City Council in June 2017. 

The investigation about the missing water issue led to questions about the verbal agreement Tillman said he had with members of the Olton City Council to lease city-owned land adjacent to Olton’s sewer pond, as well as whether he had been paying for use of that land. Interviews conducted as part of the investigation raised questions about Tillman possibly impersonating a police officer and questions about whether he had placed a set of tires on his personal vehicle and then tried to cover it up by replacing those tires. The investigation also raised questions about whether Tillman used a city vehicle to do work for the City of Amherst with whom he had a personal agreement to sign off on that city’s landfill issues. And the investigation also raised questions about whether the former city administrator used racial slurs and prohibited municipal employees from speaking Spanish to residents unable to speak English.

The investigation originally led to the two third degree felony indictments — one alleging the theft of the 72.4 acre of land “namely by failing to pay lease payments” and the other alleging theft of water “namely by failing to make a deposit payment and monthly payments.” It also led to the misdemeanor theft complaint alleging the former city administrator unlawfully acquired or exercised control of the tires.

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