Top elected official in smallest county in Texas arrested for alleged cattle theft

Loving County is 671 square miles of desert in remote West Texas and has a population of just 57 people

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 24 May 2022 20:02
<p>Judge Skeet Jones </p>

Judge Skeet Jones

The top elected official in Texas’ smallest county, and the least populated one in the continental United States, was arrested for cattle theft.

Judge Skeet Jones, 71, is accused of rounding up and selling stray cattle and faces three felony counts of livestock theft and one count of engaging in criminal activity.

A former sheriff’s deputy and two ranch hands have also been arrested in connection with the alleged theft in rural Loving County.

Judge Jones, was booked into Winkler County Jail last week and released on $20,000 bond, records show.

Former Loving County deputy Leroy Medlin Jr, 35, was arrested on one count of engaging in criminal activity, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Loving County is 671 square miles of desert in remote West Texas and has a population of just 57 people. It has no school, no church, no bank and no grocery store.

The Jones family is prominent in the county, with Judge Jones serving in the position since 2007, while his sister is the county clerk, his cousin’s husband is the county attorney, and his nephew is the constable, according to NBC News.

The arrests came after a yearlong investigation, according to the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

The association has special rangers who investigate agricultural crimes, including the theft of cattle and horses. It is these rangers who determine the ownership of stray livestock.

The special rangers allege that Judge ones and the others gathered stray cattle and sold them without following procedures set forth in the Texas Agriculture Code. Those procedures include calling the sheriff to report stray livestock and allowing the sheriff to search for the animal’s owner.

Ranch hand Cody Williams, 31, was charged with three counts of livestock theft and engaging in organised criminal activity.

Ranch hand Jonathon Alvarado, 23, faces one count of theft of livestock, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Mr Medlin, Mr Williams and Mr Alvarado all posted bond and were released from jail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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