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San Jacinto County News

Two East Texas counties sheriffs come together as one

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San Jacinto County Deputy Jared Oliver, Sgt. Mark Gustafson, Sheriff Greg Capers, Patrol Division Lt. Ray Bowen, K9 Handler Deputy Dustin Oliphant with K9 Lady Duna display a small sampling of the seized drugs and paraphernalia from a recent drug arrest in Cleveland. Courtesy photo   San Jacinto County Deputy Jared Oliver, Sgt. Mark Gustafson, Sheriff Greg Capers, Patrol Division Lt. Ray Bowen, K9 Handler Deputy Dustin Oliphant with K9 Lady Duna display a small sampling of the seized drugs and paraphernalia from a recent drug arrest in Cleveland. Courtesy photo

Special to the News-Times

A cooperative investigation between the San Jacinto County and Liberty County sheriff’s departments led to the arrest of a woman on narcotics charges.

On Sept. 16, Leah Steiner was arrested on charges of manufacture or delivery of controlled substances, a first-degree felony after Steiner had been under surveillance for some time.

Deputies from both agencies executed a narcotics search warrant inside the Express Inn on Highway 59 on the north bypass in Cleveland. Reports indicate that officials seized quantities of methamphetamines as well as a variety of paraphernalia, including packaging and distribution materials.

Steiner was then transported and booked into the San Jacinto County jail.

San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers extended his appreciation to Liberty County Sheriff Bobbie Rader and his deputies for their unparalleled cooperation.

“I’m confident I speak for Sheriff Rader as well when I commit to provide all of the resources at my disposal to rid our respective communities of these undesirables in an out attempt to safeguard the families we were elected to serve,” Capers said.

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Jail captain’s quick response saves a child

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Capt. Lesa Jones, Sgt. Martin Montalvo, Deputy Jared Oliver, Sheriff Greg Capers, Det. Sgt. Omar Sheikh, Deputy Dustin Oliphant and Duna show the items seized during a welfare check initiated by Jones. Courtesy photoCapt. Lesa Jones, Sgt. Martin Montalvo, Deputy Jared Oliver, Sheriff Greg Capers, Det. Sgt. Omar Sheikh, Deputy Dustin Oliphant and Duna show the items seized during a welfare check initiated by Jones. Courtesy photo

Special to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — A video call with an inmate led the captain of the jail division to help save the life of a child and to an arrest of an individual on gun and drug charges.

Capt. Lesa Jones, a supervisor of the San Jacinto County Jail, was supervising a video call on Sept. 2 between inmate Amanda Crocker and friend Christopher Bennett, who was involved with Crocker and watching Crocker’s 3-year-old daughter.

Reports indicate that during the call, Crocker witnessed what appeared to be an assault of her daughter. She then told Jones about the incident and expressed concern for her daughter’s safety. 

Crocker told police about the presence of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia and an illegal firearm at her residence where she, her child and her significant other were all living.

Jones the initiated a welfare check of the residence, and members of the Sheriff’s Office — Sgt. Martin Montalvo, Special Operations Deputy Jared Oliver, Detective Sgt. Omar Sheikh and Special Operations Deputy K9 Handler Dustin Oliphant, along with companion K9 Lady Duna — arrived to inspect the residence. 

While no visible injuries were found on the child, officers contacted Child Protective Services for an evaluation; further searching uncovered various illegal narcotics and drug paraphernalia, including syringes, and a loaded pistol, all in plain sight and within reach of the child.

Bennett was found to have several open warrants for his arrest and was taken into custody. 

Sheikh said Bennett will be a guest of San Jacinto County Jail and beyond for the immediate future.

Sheriff Greg Capers said that when it comes to the well-being of a child, the office pulls out all the stops.

“Nothing is more important to this office or my staff,” he said.

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Brady portrait to hang in Ways and Means hearing room

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080422 bradyRep. Kevin Brady watches as his portrait is unveiled in Washington, D.C., last week. His likeness was painted for his service as chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Courtesy photo

Special to the News-Times

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Kevin Brady, TX 8, of the House Committee on Ways and Means unveiled his official portrait during a ceremony in the Committee’s hearing room last week.

Brady served as the 66th Chairman of Ways and Means during the 114th and 115th congresses and currently serves as ranking member of the Committee.

The representative is only the third Texan in history to chair the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, considered to be the most influential committee in Congress.

Current chairman Richard Neal called himself fortunate to have Brady’s friendship.

“This is the moment when the aspirations and acknowledgments of the contributions he has made to the country is honored by the people who have known him the best: you who had the good sense to send him to Washington in the first place,” Neal said.

During his years as chairman, Brady led a historic reform of America’s tax code — the first in 30 years. The tax cuts for families and local businesses in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act restored America to the most competitive economy in the world, and led to millions of new jobs, the highest household income, the lowest poverty rate in half a century, and a return of U.S. jobs and investment from overseas.

As a champion of free enterprise and American-made energy, Brady’s first achievement as chairman was successfullynegotiating on behalf of Speaker Paul Ryan for an end to the 40-year ban on selling U.S. crude oil overseas, leading to American energy independence.

Brady helped secure passage of 13 of America’s 15 trade agreements, including President Trump’s United States-Mexico-Canada agreement to help American workers and businesses compete and win access to new customers around the world.

Brady also negotiated bipartisan IRS reform for the first time in two decades, a historical national ban on surprise medical bills, and sweeping reform of America’s retirement system. These are just a few of his many accomplishments.

“It is an unbelievable joy to serve alongside the Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee,” Brady said. “I love this job, and thanks to the incredible lawmakers and leaders that I have worked with in Congress and the White House, I have been fortunate to do some good things for our country.”

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “From The Woodlands to Washington, from Conroe to Congress, Kevin Brady has left his mark as a thoughtful leader, a happy warrior, and a dear friend to members of both parties. When they asked which members are here, they didn’t ask by party, but I promise you they are equal in number. He is a friend to Main Street and to American workers and their families. Kevin Brady has served the people of Texas faithfully inCongress for 26 years. By any metric, it’s been a historic term.”

The portrait, painted by Stephen Craighead, was funded by private donors through a program administered by the U.S. Capitol Historical Association. The portrait will hang among those of other past chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and will serve as a reminder of all the great things that can be accomplished in the People’s house.

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Training, education assistance available

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072822 training available Many people are rethinking their career choices, especially since the economy has changed due to COVID.

Special to the News-Times

NACOGDOCHES — Greater East Texas Community Action Program is offering funding for potential students who wish to be trained, retrained or to earn degrees.

As the fall school year approaches many people may be considering education plans, and East Texans are encouraged to get serious about job skills. Funding and assistance for education and training can be challenging.

Support services for those attending classes are often needed as well.

According to Division Director Teresa Land, many people are rethinking their career choices, especially since the economy has changed due to COVID. Short term training classes, certificate classes or a college degree may be a goal for those wishing to have more stability or a better paying job.

Executive Director Karen Swenson said the program is the best opportunity for comprehensive support to help individuals complete training and degrees.

“This funding likely will not continue,” she said. “We really hope many in rural east Texas take advantage of this opportunity. The application process does take some time but can truly be life-changing.”

The RISE Case Management Program provides assistance with expenses related to training or education. Support services for rent, utilities, and other needs may be available. Eligibility is based on household income and circumstances.

GETCAP is partnering with local community colleges and universities as well as other training entities to encourage students to seek education. Short-term certificate programs are included in this effort as well as degree programs.

The application can be found at www.get-cap.org. For more information email Shawna Jordan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (936) 615-0522.

For more information about all GETCAP assistance programs visit the website: www.get-cap.org. GETCAP programs are available to all regardless of race, sex, color or national origin.

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Arrest made in 2005 double homicide

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072822 arrest made 2005 homicideAntonio and Luz Rodriguez were the victims of a violent crime in 2005. Thompson-Lemoinea Courtesy photos

Special to the News-Times

AUSTIN — The arrest of 41-year-old Freeport woman put to rest a double murder case committed in Cleveland in 2005.

Shelley Susan Thompson-Lemoine was arrested on July 8 at the parole office in Angleton by Texas Rangers and detectives from the Cleveland Police Department. She was charged with capital murder in connection with the deaths of Antonio and Luz Rodriguez.
Bond is set at $1 million dollars.

Reports state that on April 14, 2005, Antonio and Luz Rodriguez were found dead in their home on West Waco Street in Cleveland by their daughter. Cleveland PD and the Texas Rangers investigated the crime scene and continued the investigation until it ultimately went cold.

However, as the result of a conviction, DNA was collected when Thompson-Lemoine was incarcerated in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility. It was submitted to the DPS crime laboratory and later entered into the Combined DNA Index System.

In early March 2021, Cleveland detectives were notified by CODIS of a possible connection and they requested the assistance of the Texas Ranger Unsolved Crimes Investigation Program. In 2022, the DPS lab confirmed a DNA match with Thompson-Lemoine.
Earlier this month, investigators conferred with Liberty County District Attorney Jennifer Bergman-Harkness, and an arrest warrant was issued.

Since an arrest has been made, the case has become active, and anyone with information is asked to contact the Texas Rangers or the Cleveland PD.

The Texas Ranger Unsolved Crimes Investigation Program was created to assist Texas law enforcement agencies investigating unsolved homicides or violent serial crimes. Since there is no statute of limitations on the offense of murder, investigators pursue these cases to a successful resolution or until no viable leads remain.

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