Charges dismissed against Hearne city manager after deal reached

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HEARNE, Texas - Charges of misusing city funds made against the top staff member at the City of Hearne have been dismissed, according to a city official and the Robertson County district attorney.

However, the two differ when it comes to the terms of the agreement reached with regards to Hearne City Manager Pee Wee Drake.

City Attorney Bryan Russ told News 3 Tuesday that at that night's city council meeting, it was announced that an agreement had been reached between Drake's team and the Robertson County district attorney's office to drop charges Drake had been indicted on in October.

The 82nd District Court's judge, Robert Stem, granted the motion for dismissal on March 7, according to Russ.

Drake was accused of using city funds to pay a city employee while the employee was jailed in January 2015 on charges related to driving while intoxicated. Drake said the employee received pay for sick time and vacation he had built up while working for the city.

According to Russ, the truth had prevailed and the district attorney's office had recognized that.

On Wednesday, District Attorney Coty Siegert contacted KBTX with what he said were some of the terms of the dismissal agreement. Siegert said per the deal, Drake owes the City of Hearne $2,968.56 based on the money paid to the jailed employee. Siegert also said Drake must pay a fine in the amount of $1,000 to the court.

"This was a reasonable offer based on the reckless conduct of Mr. Drake combined with his lack of any criminal history," Siegert wrote.

Wednesday night, Russ contacted News 3 and said he wanted to clarify information concerning the dismissal deal.

Russ first said the $2,968.56 had been paid back prior to the October indictment of Drake. Russ said he personally delivered the money to the city, and that the money came from a supporter of Drake's and not Drake himself.

Second, Russ said the $1,000 Drake owed to the court was not a fine, but a fee, part of a pre-trial diversion from January as part of the agreement to move towards the dismissal of charges.

Russ said a fine would have only been issued if there was a finding of guilt, and that his client has never made any such admission. Russ said it was a case where the city overpaid vacation and sick time to the jailed employee due to a computer miscalculation, and that there was no concerted effort to misuse city funds.

Late Wednesday evening, Siegert responded to Russ' statements. Siegert said contrary to Russ, the money was paid after the indictment, not before, and that he has the files to prove it. He also said Russ arguing the difference between a fine and a fee means Russ might as well tell Siegert what the definition of the word "is" is.

In July, Drake retired from the city manager position, but then served the city as a consultant. In October, just days after being indicted, Drake was rehired as city manager in a split vote by the city council. Gomez called the rehiring a show of support, and that the charges were unwarranted.