Grand jury indicts suspended Bertram police chief on abuse of official capacity charge tied to alleged DWI patrol unit crash



By Richard Zowie
Staff Writer

The 33rd/424th Judicial District grand jury has handed down another indictment for suspended Bertram Police Chief James Jay (“JJ”) Wilson.

Wilson was booked into the Burnet County Jail Nov. 27 on an indictment charge of abuse of official capacity. The charge stemmed from an Oct. 24 crash on Ranch to Market Road 1431 East in Burnet County. According to DPS documents, Wilson was driving while intoxicated during the collision in a Bertram patrol vehicle.

The latest charge comes on the heels of previous grand jury indictments against Wilson on Oct. 2 which included felony perjury and misdemeanor official oppression. The embattled chief defended his actions and referred to the previous indictments as a “witch hunt” against him by the 33rd/424th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

The abuse of official capacity charge ($2,500 or more but less than $30,00), a state jail felony, included a $15,000 surety bond with the same drug-testing and firearms conditions set in his previous indictment. He posted bond and was released Nov. 27.

The crash incident was reported around 8:20 p.m. Oct. 24 in the 5800 block of the roadway, about five miles east of Marble Falls, according to the incident log of the Burnet County Sheriff's Office.

Wilson, who left the scene of the incident, was arrested a short time later and subsequently booked in and released from the Burnet County Jail on a $1,500 surety bond on the DWI charge, according to jail documents.

Wilson is currently on unpaid suspension, through late December, by the City of Bertram.

According to Bertram City Attorney Michael Guevara, the city has a personnel policy they follow, along with state laws.

The different options that are available in the personnel policy as far as discipline could be probation, unpaid suspension, demotion, or termination,” Guevara said. “The only time we get into some type of administrative leave is when we have a recommendation for termination.”

As of Nov. 26, Bertram City Secretary Georgina Hernandez said no formal agreement has been reached between Wilson and the city to end his contract, contrary to other news reports that had erroneously reported he'd been terminated.

Guevara noted that Section 023 of Chapter 614 states that an officer may not be suspended indefinitely or terminated until an investigation has been conducted and completed.

Wilson did not responded to The Highlander's request for comment, but on his Facebook page (where he's listed as “JJ Willson”), he did recently post this Nov. 26: “I have been in a quiet place praying for 25 days straight. God showed up and pulled me from the pit, so I have returned. Seven criminal indictments and strong accusations, and yet I have peace that passes any understanding. I will stand my ground, where HOPE can be found. I have been set free so I'm now a prisoner of HOPE. Zechariah 9:11-12”

Among the comments on Wilson's post:

Wilma Garner: “The county is better for having you in it. Keep God in your life and great things will happen for you.”

Richard Bolton: “Praying for you JJ, when I first got to homicide and met you and worked with you I found that your integrity was what made you a great investigator, stand proud, I'm proud to be your friend.”

In subsequent comments, Wilson added that “...This is the battle of my life.” and “... Good will prevail.”

Staff Writer Connie Swinney contributed to this report.

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