Former constable faces new theft charge

TYLER (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - The trial for a former Smith County constable accused of felony theft and other misdemeanor crimes will begin Wednesday in the 241st District Court, and Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham will prosecute it, Judge Jack Skeen Jr. said.

Skeen said in court on Monday that special prosecutor Lance Larison resigned from the case of Dustin Robert Rust, 31. Before he resigned, Larison filed a motion with the court on Sept. 5 to dismiss the charges against Rust, but Skeen refused to grant the motion and ordered the trial go forward.

That motion stated Rust signed a judicial confession to the charges against him and that he paid $7,698 in restitution for the time and cost of the vehicles used by deputy constables while on duty with the county and working security.

Rust was arrested in April after he and four of his deputies, who were arrested in February, were charged with operating a private security business without a license. Authorities said they patrolled the Woods subdivision while working on the clock for Smith County.

There was one additional misdemeanor charge filed against Rust Friday in addition to the pending charges for which he was indicted. Rust has been indicted on two counts of abuse of official capacity, a state jail felony; one count of theft by a public servant, a third-degree felony; and 10 counts of operating a security company without a license, a Class A misdemeanor.

Each charge of abuse of official capacity carries up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. The third-degree felony theft, for allegedly using taxpayer dollars to illegally run a security business for benefit, carries up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The new charge, theft by a public servant, filed on Friday was a Class A misdemeanor. The penalty for this new charge is up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine according to the Texas penal code.

The trial for Rust was scheduled to begin Monday but was delayed because the trial for Kenneth and Shelley Walker, both charged with injury to a child, a first-degree felony, is taking place in the 241st District Court. That trial is expected to conclude today.

On May 29, Rust finished last in a four-candidate primary race. Jim Blackmon, a Bullard police officer, eventually won the July 31 runoff and was sworn in by Smith County commissioners in August to fill Rust's unexpired term. Blackmon will begin the full term, for which he was elected, on Jan. 1.

Rust said at the time of his resignation that he would be going to work another law enforcement agency but declined to specify which one. There was no information in the motion to dismiss about whether Rust would be able to retain his license with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. In order to work as a licensed peace officer in Texas, an individual must have a current TCLEOSE license, according to the commission's website.

There is a restrictive and protective order in place on the Rust case, so no one associated with the case may comment on it. Defense attorneys John Haring and Kelly Pace are representing Rust.


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