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DeWitt chief deputy suspended for false arrest

By Sonny Long
July 21, 2011 at 2:21 a.m.

John Oglesby

What Happened So Far?June 15 - In Yorktown, an undercover officer with the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office buy 40 pills of Alprazolam from a "Steven Rodriguez."

June 10 - DeWitt County Chief Deputy John Oglesby swears out an affidavit for probable cause for the arrest of "Rodriguez" that is signed by DeWitt County Justice of the Peace Bill Robinson.

June 20 - Robinson issues an arrest warrant for "Rodriguez."

June 26 - Steven Rene Rodriguez is mistakenly arrested at his home in Victoria. He is released from jail several hours later on $5,000 bail.

June 28 - Rodriguez is fired from his job.

July 8 - Victoria attorney George Filley III, representing Rodriguez, files a request with Robinson for an examining trial. Robinson sets hearing it for July 15.

July 14 - After DeWitt County District Attorney Michael Sheppard intervenes, the examining trial to review the evidence is canceled and the charges against Rodriguez are dropped.

July 15 - Rodriguez and Filley hold a news conference in Victoria.

July 20 - Oglesby is suspended for two weeks without pay.

CUERO - DeWitt County Chief Deputy Sheriff John Oglesby is suspended for two weeks without pay for his role in the misidentification and false arrest of a Victoria man late last month.

Steven Rene Rodriguez was arrested by mistake on drug charges June 26. The charges were dropped July 14.

Oglesby, who has been chief deputy in DeWitt County since April 2008, offered his resignation to Sheriff Jode Zavesky.

"I refused his resignation. He was the case manager, and he took full responsibility," Zavesky said Thursday.

"There was nothing I could do to him that he hasn't done to himself already. He's a stand-up guy. He told me, 'It was my mistake, nobody else's.' It was a misidentification. It was a mistake," Zavesky said.

A veteran of more than 25 years in law enforcement, Oglesby was the former chief deputy in Matagorda County and was a former officer in the Houston Police Department.

The suspension began Wednesday.

The sheriff said he would like to meet with Rodriguez.

"I want to apologize to him face to face," said Zavesky. "If I were him, I would be just as mad as he was."

"The county wants to make amends with Mr. Rodriguez, and I hope we can do that soon," Zavesky said. "Though we may not have any legal culpability, we have a moral culpability. It was a misidentification. There was no malice behind it."

Victoria attorney Kevin Cullen, who represents DeWitt County, has reached out to Rodriguez's attorney, George Filley III.

"The sheriff has admitted a mistake was made, but there may not be any legally recognizable cause for action," said Cullen. "I am hopeful we can reach a resolution."

But Filley is not as hopeful.

"I'm not satisfied in the least," Filley said. "We still do not have a complete picture of how this came about. It's premature to be talking about any resolutions."

The sheriff hopes Rodriguez is on the road to putting the incident behind him.

"I wish Mr. Rodriguez nothing but the best, and I hope we can help him get his life back on track," said Zavesky.

That has started for Rodriguez, 36.

He goes back to work as an automobile salesman at Atzenhoffer on Aug. 1, he said.

"Atzenhoffer was instrumental in helping us with our investigation. After we started looking into this, they provided us with information that Steven was at work on the day and time the drug sale was supposed to have taken place," Filley said.

DeWitt County District Attorney Michael Sheppard said he and his staff are meeting Friday to discuss not only the Rodriguez arrest but all those arrested in Operation Pill Crusher, the sheriff's undercover operation that resulted in 39 warrants issued for 24 individuals.

"We will be talking about how to deal with all these cases," Sheppard said. "We need to review these files and determine what happened before we can make any decisions moving forward."

Zavesky said his office is reviewing what went wrong.

"We're working on it," he said. "I don't want to just put something on paper because it looks good. We're going through our policy and reviewing it thoroughly. We're putting a check list together so we can go through all of them before we reach a conclusion. I will also be talking to the district attorney about what we can do to make sure this doesn't happen again."

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