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Rockwall County finally has a DA who’s not in trouble with the law.
Elected by Rockwall County voters Nov. 5, former Dallas County prosecutor and criminal attorney Kenda Culpepper was sworn in this morning as Rockwall County’s new District Attorney by Rockwall County resident and Justice Carolyn Wright, of the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals, at the Rockwall County Courthouse.
After being sworn in to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” Culpepper thanked the 60-70 family members, friends, judges and attorneys who filled the courtroom for coming to witness the ceremony, and pledged to be a “faithful steward.”
She also praised and thanked her newly-inherited staff of assistant district attorneys, investigators and staff members – especially First Assistant Craig Stoddart - whom she said have been working “under tremendous stress” and “incredibly difficult circumstances.”
Stoddart has supervised the workload at the DA’s office since last June when former, long-term District Attorney Ray Sumrow was convicted and sentenced to prison for 15 years for theft as a public servant.
Culpepper added that, while she doesn’t expect any major changes, what they do will be “transparent” to the entire community. more
Former Rockwall DA Ray Sumrow has been hospitalized complaining about chest pains since Friday morning after a judge denied his claim that he was indigent and unable to afford the $20,000 it will take to appeal his conviction of theft by a public servant.
According to the Rockwall Sheriff’s Dept., Sumrow was not having an emergency when he was transferred from Rockwall County Jail to Presbyterian Hospital of Rockwall, where he spent the first three nights. He was later taken to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas for more testing, where he was admitted in fair condition.
No results have yet been announced.
Sumrow was convicted in March and then again in June of stealing public money. He resigned last month and recently began a 15-year prison term.
In order to appeal his conviction, he will now need to pay the $20,000 for the original trial transcript out of his own pocket, which means the state will not need to pay it.
Mr. Sumrow’s daughter, Heather Sumrow Joplin, said she was upset that jail officials had neither allowed family members to see him, nor had they updated family members about her father’s status.
A Rockwall sheriff’s office spokesman said that family members of inmates must contact their doctors for medical information because inmates have the same visitation restrictions in a hospital as in jail.
Senior district court judge John Nelms ruled Saturday morning that convicted ex-Rockwall District Attorney Ray Sumrow is not indigent, rejecting Sumrow’s claims that he cannot afford the $20,000 it will cost to purchase a trial transcript so he can appeal his conviction.
The decision means that the State will not have to pay the bill.
Sumrow is currently in prison where he recently began serving a 15-year sentence for theft. He resigned last month.
Just read a well-written story by Elizabeth Langton in the Dallas Morning News about what a shock Ray Sumrow’s demise is to his family and close friends. According to her article, they say he’s always been honest; just terrible with his finances. They say he just made a simple $68,000 mistake, and accidentally put it in his personal account, rather than in the DA’s account. They also accuse Rockwall Co. Sheriff Harold Eavenson of conducting a witch-hunt and taking advantage of Sumrow, his “political enemy.” They say Sumrow just “made the wrong people mad.”
Well, c’mon, folks. Wake up! There were so many law enforcement officials involved in this case, including the Texas Rangers, that the Sheriff couldn’t have just choreographed an assault on the former DA without there having been plenty of truth to the charges. He’s guilty of theft by a public servant. Believe it!
Not even mentioned was the $80,000 he was paid during the past two years to help Ken Teel found the new Presbyterian Hospital of Rockwall. Wonder what Sumrow did with that money? Judging from the quotes in the article, he must have just gone on some gigantic spending spree. They said he once bought a garden tractor without even knowing if he had the money to afford it. Don’t you realize, Sumrow family and friends, how stupid and irresponsible your quotes in this story make him look?
I don’t feel much sympathy for Sumrow. I don’t know the man, but I do know that he didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. He’s certainly been around the block enough times to know to take care of his business – especially if he’s going to prosecute others for making the same mistake. And if he couldn’t do it personally, or have a wife to do it, then he certainly could have found a good bookkeeper like many other people do. And he could afford to hire one, too.
How do you go from earning that eighty grand, in addition to his salary and other income, and yet have to be declared “indigent?” He must have had an insatiable appetite for purchasing things.
Public officials don’t have the right to mismanage finances so poorly that they get in jams such as these. We citizens expect more from them. And now he has to pay for his alleged arrogance and mismanagement of his life. Maybe 15 years is a bit excessive, but I doubt he’ll be in for that long anyway. The court system doesn’t seem to keep anyone jailed for the length of time they’re sentenced, anyway.
Now that former County DA Ray Sumrow has resigned due to his convictions for theft and because he is in jail, beginning his 15 year prison sentence which will be appealed, the campaign to elect a new DA this November may be the most hotly-contested local race in years.
Already, rumor has it, several Democrats and Republicans are laying the groundwork for Fall campaigns. Anybody knows who planning to run?
Although Republicans currently hold every elected County position, County Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Stephen Taylor says that the national momentum energized by the Obama/Clinton campaigns could easily generate enough support locally for a Democrat to be elected.
“We had a very successful primary, a very successful county convention and a very successful state convention. And the emotions at all of those were very intense,” Dr. Taylor said. “This is a real force that’s swelling up and growing, and it’s going to change the politics of Rockwall County.”
I certainly did notice the hundreds of Democrats at my voting precinct who attended their caucus meetings after they voted in the Texas primary election. The turnout was amazing!
Until that election, or unless Gov. Rick Perry decides to appoint someone else until the election, first Assistant DA Craig Stoddart holds the position after taking over in March. Rumor has it that Craig is not interested in campaigning and is happy to continue as an assistant DA.
Stay tuned for more rumors…and facts.
I just discovered a WFAA-TV news story which aired June 2 regarding the relationship between former Rockwall DA Ray Sumrow, who was just convicted of theft and sentenced to 15 years in prison, and Presbyterian Hospital President Ken Teel. It seems that Sumrow was paid $80,000 by Teel and Presby for services he rendered to help develop the new hospital, but before Sumrow was indicted.
According to the story, Teel’s attorney told News 8 that Mr. Teel terminated the partnership’s relationship with Sumrow the day after the former DA was indicted. Teel says he, Sumrow and the partnerships did work together to get Presbyterian Medical Center started.
And Teels says, Sumrow did invest funds in a hospital-related partnership. But, he says, those funds were returned to Sumrow and yielded no profit for the former DA.
Ken Teel is highly respected in the community, after developing both Presby and Lake Pointe Medical Center in Rowlett. So I feel certain that we can believe him. I do wonder about what other deals Sumrow was involved in, which he apparently used his position to profit from.
Perhaps some sniffing around would be in order!