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January 28, 2019 - As three vehicles collided off U.S. Highway 96 North Friday, January 25, 2019, a local business was struck by one of the vehicles involved.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Dustin Ramos, at 6:30pm a grey 1999 Nissan Maxima driven by Obdulia Arellano, 50 of Nacogdoches with 6-year-old and 2-year-old passengers was stopped facing north on U.S. Highway 96 North in the inside lane.

At that time, a blue 2000 Ford Expedition driven by Almaquer Roque Crescenciano, 32, of Center with a 2-year-old passenger was traveling south on U.S. 96 in the outside lane.

As the Nissan began to turn left on FM 2026 it failed to yield right of way to the Expedition, causing it to strike the right back quarter of the Nissan leaving both vehicle damaged. The Expedition continued traveling into the McAdams Propane parking lot where it then impacted with the building, causing extensive damage.

After the collision with the Expedition, the Nissan spun into FM 2026 where it collided with a tan 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Tina McKinney, 41, of Center. Passengers in the Tahoe were Brian McKinney, 46, as well as a 13-year-old and 10-year-old passenger.

No injuries were reported as a result of the crash. 

Arellano was issued citations for fail to yield right of way - turning left and no driver's license. Crescenciano was also issued a citation for no driver's license.

Despite the incident, McAdams Propane opened for customers Monday morning.

January 26, 2019 - Judge LeAnn Rafferty of the 123rd Judicial District Court had six (6) inmates currently incarcerated in the Shelby County Jail brought over to the Court on Friday, January 25, 2019 to follow up on their appearances January 24, 2019. 

As a result, Shelby County District Attorney Stephen Shires was able to finalize nine (9) cases. This included State v. Peterson, where the defendant received 15 months incarceration in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice State Jail Division for the offense of burglary of a building.

January 25, 2019 - Mr. Pugh has been located and he is safe.

No further information is available at this time.


January 24, 2019 - The Shelby County Sheriff's Office is seeking the whereabouts of James Edward Pugh of Joaquin, TX.

Pugh was last seen Sunday morning, Jan. 20, 2019 at Brookshire Bros. on the Haslam strip in Joaquin. He is described at a 6'3" white male with brown hair and blue eyes. He may be wearing a red hoodie style sweatshirt and jeans.

If you have any information on the location of his whereabouts, please contact the Sheriff's Office at (936) 598-5600.

January 25, 2019 - On Thursday, January 24, 2019, in the 123rd Judicial District Court, Honorable Judge LeAnn Rafferty presiding, 63 cases were on the docket for status hearings and other pretrial purposes. Shelby County District Attorney Stephen Shires finalized 22 cases. 

This included State v. Watts, on a revocation of probation, where the defendant received 10 months in the Texas Department of Corrections Criminal Justice State Jail Division for a drug possession offense. That also included State v. Jacobs, where the defendant received 24 months State Jail incarceration for drug and other offenses. 

Persons incarcerated in the State Jail Division do not receive credit for “good time” and are not eligible for parole. That means, with the exception of individuals who voluntarily educate or train themselves (and become eligible for a slight reduction of their sentence), persons sentenced to the State Jail Division do their time day-for-day. 

District Attorney Shires announced that discovery had been provided on each of the cases, and he and defense lawyers agreed that most of the remaining cases are close to being resolved via plea bargain. After the 63 case docket was completed, Judge Rafferty brought over several additional individuals jailed at the Shelby County Jail on recent charges, to inquire into their statuses. 

A number of those individuals are being brought back to court on January 25, 2019, for further proceedings. The remaining cases are set on the March-April Trial Docket.


On Thursday, January 24, 2019, David Nathan Lewis, Jr., of Timpson Texas, was convicted guilty and sentenced in the following cases:

  • Endangering a Child 24 months incarceration in the State Jail Division
  • Forgery: 24 months incarceration in the State Jail Division
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance 24 months incarceration in the State Jail Division
  • Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle 24 months incarceration in the State Jail Division
  • Fraudulent Use of Identifying Information 6 Years TDCCJ Institutional Division (Prison)

The endangering a child charge, forgery chare, possession of a controlled substance charge, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge are all considered “state jail felonies” under the law and subject the defendant to incarceration in the TDCCJ State Jail Facility for a period of 6 months to 24 months. 

Thus, Mr. Lewis received the maximum sentence from Judge LeAnn Rafferty, in the 123rd Judicial Court, on those charges. The fraudulent use of identifying information charge is a third degree felony, with a punishment range of 2-10 years. Mr. Lewis received six (6) years incarceration in prison on that charge. 

As previously noted, persons incarcerated in the State Jail Division do not receive credit for “good time” and are not eligible for parole. That means, with the exception of individuals who voluntarily educate or train themselves (and become eligible for a slight reduction of their sentence), persons, like Mr. Lewis, sentenced to the State Jail Division do their time day-for-day.


On Thursday, January 24, 2019, Shelby County District Attorney Stephen Shires moved to have the bonds on Tracy Whitaker, of Timpson Texas, revoked. Mr. Whitaker was on bond for the offenses of burglary of a habitation and engaging in organized criminal activity. While out on bond, Mr. Whitaker allegedly committed additional criminal offenses. 

For that reason, District Attorney Shires asked that Mr. Whitaker’s bonds be revoked, that he remain in custody pending trial, and that his cases be preferentially set for trial. Judge Rafferty granted the State’s Motion. 

Mr. Whitaker is set for trial on March 18, 2019.

January 24, 2019 - Loop 500 at the intersection of State Highway 7 East was the scene of a major two-vehicle crash Wednesday, January 23, 2019 involving a light pole.

When emergency responders arrived at the scene, a four-door passenger vehicle remained in the middle of the eastbound traffic lanes and the other, an SUV was in a ditch on the eastbound side and was straddling the base of a street light.

According to Center Police Officer Steve Thornburgh, at 12-noon a white 2015 GMC Yukon XL driven by Beatriz Almaguer, 43, of Center was eastbound on State Highway 7 East at the intersection of Loop 500.

At that time, a black 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Loretta Berry, 55, of Center was eastbound on Loop 500 and failed to yield right of way entering the intersection, causing the two vehicles to collide. 

No injuries were reported as a result of the crash.

Berry was issued a citation for failure to yield right of way and Almaguer was issued a citation for no driver's license.

TxDOT was at the location to address the light pole which was knocked down and Center Fire Department directed traffic until the vehicles were removed.

Officer Thornburgh was assisted with the crash investigation by Officer Robert Lee.

January 23, 2019 - On January 22, 2019, in the 273rd Judicial District Court of Shelby County, Honorable James A. Payne Jr. presiding, ninety-four (94) felony cases were set on the docket for arraignment, status hearings, and other pretrial purposes. Twelve (12) cases were disposed. 

In all but a couple of the cases set for status hearings, discovery had been completed. Shelby County District Attorney Stephen Shires and defense attorneys on numerous of the cases set for status hearing indicated that the cases were close to being resolved via plea bargain. A number of defendants did not show up for their arraignment at Court. 

As a result, warrants for their arrest have been issued. The cases that aren’t disposed by plea bargain are set on the May-June trial docket.

January 22, 2019 Lufkin – TxDOT Commissioners in December approved a reduction in the speed limit for sections of roadways in Nacogdoches, Polk and San Augustine counties.

In Nacogdoches County, the speed limit will be reduced from 70 miles per hour to 65 miles per hour on SH 21 East from the Nacogdoches city limits to the San Augustine County line.

In Polk County, the speed limit will be reduced from 70 miles per hour to 65 miles per hour on US 190 from the Livingston city limits to the Tyler County line.

In San Augustine County, the speed limit will be reduced from 70 miles per hour to 65 miles per hour on SH 21 from the Nacogdoches County line to the San Augustine city limits.

“Through speed studies conducted on these roadways, these sections of the highway met certain markers in the engineering and traffic investigations that justified the need to alter the speed through these areas,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer for the Lufkin District. “These lower speed limits will further enhance the safety of these highly traveled roadways.”

As new signs are placed, motorists are urged to be alert and aware of the reduced speed limits. The new speed limits are enforceable once signs are set.

For statewide road closures and conditions, visit drivetexas.org. For more information, contact Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov or (936) 633-4395.

January 22, 2019 - Alert: TxDOT Crews will be pre-treating bridges in the nine-county Lufkin District today ahead of possible freezing rain early Wednesday morning. Motorists should stay alert and respect the moving work zone as trucks move through each area. Reduce speed and drive to weather conditions. The brine mixture that crews will apply is designed to keep water from freezing on the roadway as quickly as it would without the application, but motorists should always stay alert and watch for icy patches, especially in rural areas.

January 18, 2019 - In December 2018, two grand juries, both impaneled by the 123rd Judicial District Court of Shelby County, returned 84 true bills of indictment.

On December 13, 2018, and December 17, 2018, in the 123rd Judicial District Court, Honorable Judge LeAnn Rafferty presiding, the Shelby County District Attorney Stephen Shires disposed of 14 cases. This included State v. Evans, Cause Number 18CR20582, where the defendant received 3 years in the Texas Department of Corrections Criminal Justice Institutional Division for the charge of Escape. Also resolved was State v. Smith, Cause Number 16CR19718, where defendant was required to complete sex offender probation, and will be under lifetime sex offender registration requirements. Numerous other cases, in addition to the ones that were disposed, were called for various pretrial purposes.

On December 20, 2018, Defendant Curvie Brinson was sentenced to twenty (20) years incarceration in the Texas Department of Corrections Criminal Justice Institutional Division by the Honorable Judge LeAnn Rafferty of the 123rd Judicial District Court of Shelby County. This followed a jury trial conducted by District Attorney Stephen Shires on December 10, 2018, where the defendant was found guilty of the criminal offense of Possession of a Controlled Substance by a Shelby County Jury.

On December 21, 2018, Defendant Luis Ruiz was sentenced to three terms of confinement for 24 months each in the Texas Department of Corrections Criminal Justice State Jail Division by the Honorable Judge LeAnn Rafferty of the 123rd Judicial District Court. This followed a bench trial conducted by District Attorney Stephen Shires on the same day where the defendant was found guilty of three counts of the criminal offense of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Requirements. Twenty–four months was the maximum sentence for which the defendant could be sentenced.

On January 8, 2019, the Shelby County Grand Jury for the 273rd Judicial Court was impaneled by the newly swornin Judge James A. Payne Jr. In an abbreviated setting, the grand jury returned 23 true bills of indictment.

On January 17, 2019, in the 273rd Judicial District Court, Honorable Judge James A. Payne, Jr. presiding, the Shelby County District Attorney Stephen Shires disposed of 14 cases. This included State v. Lee, Cause Number 18CR20657, where the defendant received 6 years in the Texas Department of Corrections Criminal Justice Institutional Division for the charge of Delivery of a Controlled Substance. In State v. Wuyts, Cause Numbers 18CR20735, 19CR21009, 19CR21010, the defendant received 2 years in each case in the Texas Department of Corrections Criminal Justice Institutional Division for drug charges and a forgery charge. Numerous other cases, in addition to the ones that were disposed, were called for various pretrial purposes.

January 18, 2019 - The DETCOG Regional Housing Authority has received inquiries from tenants and landlords who are concerned about the effect of the partial federal shutdown on the HUD Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.

DETCOG received its regular monthly funding from HUD for Housing Assistance Payments and Administrative Fees for the month of January, and we have been advised that the funding is scheduled to be paid on time for the month of February.

The DETCOG Housing Program has not been affected by the shutdown so far and we do not anticipate any negative impact over the next six weeks. Our Housing staff is continuing to work every day at full strength to serve the tenants and landlords who participate in this program throughout Deep East Texas.

It is our hope that the partial federal shutdown will conclude before the end of February. Should it linger on past then, we are hopeful that HUD will make alternative arrangements to ensure that funding for this program is continued without interruption.

The DETCOG Regional Housing Authority provides housing assistance to approximately 1,700 families in Angelina, Hardin, Houston, Jasper, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler counties.

Sincerely,
Lonnie Hunt
DETCOG Executive Director

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