What the hay?! You read it correctly. The Bertram Police chief, James Jay “JJ” Wilson, has surrendered to police and was booked into the Burnet County Jail Wednesday after a grand jury indicted him on charges stemming in part from a dispute over bales of hay. The indictment alleges that Wilson, in his official capacity as police chief, seized a man’s hay bales and threatened to tow his truck if he didn’t turn over the hay to an unidentified woman. Chief Wilson also threatened to have another man’s commercial driver’s license revoked if he and the first man didn’t give the hay bales to the woman.
The Bertram Police chief is also facing charges of making a false statement while under oath. Wilson claimed a third man was acting irrationally and became aggressive when officers tried to question him. In court documents, the chief frequently referred to him as a “narcotics suspect.” The third man ended up arrested falsely for public intoxication.
To add insult to injury, Wilson is also accused of intending to harm or defraud by releasing the non-public criminal history of a person to a third-party. In layman’s terms, he gave private information out to someone who was not privy to the information. Wilson reportedly also received “insider information” from a Bertram police officer in order to defraud or harm another person.
The 53-year-old chief is facing three charges of official oppression, a charge of misuse of official information and a charge of aggravated perjury. According to the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, the last two charges are felonies.
Expectedly, Wilson has professed his innocence and blames everything not on his actions, but on people out to get him.
“I believe it’s a personal vendetta,” Wilson said. “It’s a witch-hunt with this [district attorney] investigator, who’s basically trying to get at me and look at me under a microscope and find something wrong somewhere that I’ve stepped out of line or done something wrong that he can go after an indictment on me.”
Sonny McAfee, the district attorney for the 33rd and 424th judicial districts, refuted Wilson’s claims. McAfee claimed the complaints and following investigations began outside of his office.
“As public servants we all have a duty to do what’s right, what’s just and what’s fair,” McAfee said. “That’s what we seek to do, and that’s what we’re seeking to do in this investigation and prosecution.”
“[This case] was presented to a grand jury, so a grand jury could review it. A grand jury returned indictments,” he added. “We don’t engage in witch-hunts. We’re more interested in trying to seek justice, as the law requires us to do.”
The Bertram Police chief was processed at the county jail Wednesday morning and has already bonded out on a total bond of $101,000. The conditions of his bond are that he submits to drug testing, a substance abuse treatment and/or education program, and no contact with a list of five people and their families and no possession of firearms or ammunition.
Mayor Adam Warden wrote in a statement, “Chief Wilson has served the City of Bertram professionally and ethically for over three years. During his tenure, he has given the City no reason to doubt his integrity and has become a valuable part of the Bertram community. We will certainly follow the pending Burnet County case but do not anticipate a change in his position or responsibilities at this time.”