Peek pleads guilty to lesser charge, will remain commissioner

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Moments before testimony in the trial of A.J. Peek was to begin Tuesday, the prosecution and defense reached a plea agreement that will allow the Clay County Precinct 4 commission to remain in office.

Peek was indicted on a single count of abuse of official capacity on May 21, 2012 for an April 2011 action in which Peek asked a county employee to conduct work on private property using county equipment. The indictment stated the work was valued at between $500 and $1,500, making it a Class A misdemeanor.

With Tuesday’s agreement, Peek pled guilty to a Class C misdemeanor charge of abuse of official capacity in an amount of less then $20. He is sentenced to a $200 fine and required to pay $322 in court costs.

“This does not cost him his job,” Robert Estrada, attorney for Peek, told jurors after their release Tuesday. “He’s able to accept responsibility and move on with his life.”

Peek has never denied ordering the work, cleaning out a small ditch behind the home of a former county employee with terminal cancer. The landowner, Ricky Staley, died in December.

The trial was postponed twice, first on Jan. 17 and again March 25. Special Prosecutor Ron Poole, assistant district attorney for the 235th Judicial District in Denton County, said in January that due to the death the prosecution needed additional evidence.

Information provided in the original complaint made to authorities has not been released to the public despite repeated attempts by The Pioneer Sentinel.

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Pioneer Sentinel

The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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