A cattle rustling scheme involving a public figure was allegedly busted by special rangers in Texas.
“The top seated official in the least populated county in the state of Texas was arrested Friday. Loving County Judge Skeet Jones is accused of livestock theft and organized criminal activity,” News West 9 reported. “A special ranger with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association confirmed Judge Jones and three others, including a county employee, are accused of picking up estray cattle and selling them.”
Reminder that yesterday in Loving County, Texas, a man called Skeet Jones was arrested for being a cattle rustler along with the man helping him, a guy named Leroy Medlin.
They are still waiting to see a judge because Loving is a small county whose sitting judge is.. Skeet Jones
— Shiv Ramdas Traing To Rite Buk (@nameshiv) May 22, 2022
Jones, Cody Williams, Jonathon Alvarado, and Leroy Medlin were all arrested.
“By law, if an estray (loose) livestock animal roams onto a property, the property owner must report the livestock to the sheriff. The sheriff’s office would then contact the livestock’s owner and work toward reunification,” the station reported. “Jones and Williams are officially charged for theft of three head of cattle and organized crime. Alvarado is charged with the theft of one head of cattle and organized crime. Medlin is charged for organized crime.”
Elgin “Punk” Jones, the county sheriff for 28 years, is Jones’s father.
“For decades, a handful of prominent families in Loving County have feuded bitterly for control of the local government, with the Joneses finally largely coming out ahead. Skeet Jones has served as the judge for more than 15 years. His sister is the county clerk. His cousin’s husband is the county attorney. His nephew is the constable,” NBC News reported.
Judge Skeet Jones is the top elected official in Loving County, Texas, population 57. He has been arrested along with three other men on suspicion of stealing cattle after a yearlong investigation. The men are accused of gathering and selling stray cattle. https://t.co/uSvtV8q5op
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 22, 2022
Susan Hays, an election lawyer in Texas, calls the method “asinine.”
“You can’t make this sh*t up,” she stated. “It’s a pain in the ass to round up cattle and take them to market. And then to risk real trouble for it? It’s just asinine to me.”
Authorities say Judge Skeet Jones, 71, has been the senior elected official in the least populated county in the continental United States since 2007. He is suspected of rounding up and selling stray cattle and faces three felony counts of livestock theft and one count of engaging in criminal activity.
#BREAKING: Loving County Judge Skeet Jones was arrested earlier today by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
He and three others are accused of picking up loose cattle and selling them.
Special rangers have been on this case for more than a year.
— Tatum Guinn (@tatumguinn) May 20, 2022
Jones, a member of a powerful ranching family that settled in Loving County in the 1950s, was arrested on Friday and freed on a $20,000 bond, according to court documents. He did not respond to inquiries for comment.
Former Loving County deputy Leroy Medlin Jr., 35, was also arrested on one count of engaging in criminal activity, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Medlin did not respond to phone calls, but his wife sent an email questioning the arrests’ reasons. “At full force,” she wrote, “we are being targeted.”
Skeet Jones is a powerful judge in Texas' smallest county. He is being charged with cattle theft.: Loving County Judge Skeet Jones, the scion of a powerful ranching family, was arrested after a yearlong investigation that is ongoing, aut.. via NBCNews https://t.co/TVAovzFQwG
— Jeffrey Levin 🇺🇦 (@jilevin) May 22, 2022
The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, the case’s lead agency, provided scant details regarding the alleged offense. The association has “special rangers” – licensed peace officers — who investigate livestock theft and other agriculture offenses on behalf of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
A spokesman for the association, Jeremy Fuchs, said the year-long investigation is still underway and that further accusations could be filed.
The top elected official in the least populated county of the continental US is being charged with 3 felony counts of cattle theft and 1 count of engaging in criminal activity. Judge Skeet Jones of Loving County, TX gets paid over $133k a year but that still isn't enough for him. pic.twitter.com/9A55iRrNIm
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) May 21, 2022
The arrests spread like a prairie fire with a tailwind through this West Texas county, which had 57 residents according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimate. Loving County is 671 square miles of mesquite-studded desert with no school, church, grocery store, or bank. The few children who live there take the bus from the nearest town, Mentone (population 22), and travel 35 miles to school each morning and afternoon.
For decades, a few major Loving County families have feuded bitterly for control of the local government, with the Joneses ultimately coming out on top. Skeet Jones has presided over the court for almost 15 years. His sister holds the position of the county clerk. The county attorney is his cousin’s husband. The constable is his nephew.
— Tatum Guinn (@tatumguinn) May 21, 2022
However, some newly elected county officials have been squabbling with the Joneses and their friends, resulting in tense commissioners’ court hearings and a highly anticipated November election.
The Jones family is no longer held together by blood.
Loving County Judge Skeet Jones and three other men were arrested on Friday on charges of livestock theft and engaging in organized criminal activity. https://t.co/cNaGb1LyG3
— FOX 4 NEWS (@FOX4) May 23, 2022
“He’s had free reign for the entire time since he’s been the judge,” said Skeet Jones’ nephew, Constable Brandon Jones, who was elected in 2016. “That’s given him a sense of power and impunity that he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants. Even the feeling of self-righteousness. That he can do no wrong.”