Madisonville Woman Suing City, Police Dept, Others for $5 Million

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HOUSTON A Madisonville woman is suing after she says she was wrongfully arrested for alleged drug possession in November 2011.

Laura Covington filed the suit in a federal court in Houston. She alleges that her ex-husband Jeffery Covington set her up to be arrested for the drug charge so he could win custody of their kids. Jeffery Covington was a sergeant with Madisonville's police department in 2011. He was indicted by a grand jury in 2013 that he worked with several narcotics informants to plant crystal meth on Laura's vehicle.

A State Trooper arrested Laura Covington on November 9, 2011, after finding the controlled substance in a magnetic key holder on her vehicle. The suit claims Jeffery Covington informed the trooper about the drug two months before the arrest, which was reportedly a flashpoint in a custody battle between the Covingtons.

According to Laura Covington, Jeffery Covington said he was "going to have someone plant drugs" on her so he could win custody of their two children. The trooper testified "he believed the drugs to have been under the vehicle for some time based on certain facts surrounding his discovery of the drugs" and he "did not find any in the vehicle." Hair follicle tests revealed "no drugs whatsoever in the system of the plaintiff," and the children were subsequently returned to her.

The suit states Jeffery Covington and then-MPD patrol deputy Justin Barham worked with someone named Jeremy Kidd on the acquisition and placement of the drugs. The officers supposedly committed the act for which Laura Covington sues "in their capacity as officers of law enforcement," the original petition says.

Jeffery Covington is facing charges of delivery of a controlled substance, obstruction or retaliation, and official oppression in connection with the same case. Barham, who later went on to work for the Madison County District Attorney's Office, is charged with Official Oppression and delivery of a controlled substance. His charges stem from an ongoing investigation by Texas Rangers.

Laura Covington did not face prosecution for her arrest, but she claims the ordeal damaged her financially and emotionally. Barham, Kidd, the city of Madisonville, Madisonville police, Madison County and its district attorney's office join her ex-spouse as co-defendants in the case.

She is seeking $5 million in damages.