Burnet County judge released on bonds after turning himself in
Burnet County Judge James Oakley turned himself in for processing at the Lampasas County Jail at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9, on one felony and three misdemeanor charges handed down by a Burnet County grand jury in the 33rd District Court. Bonds totaled $5,000 for all four counts, which he paid in cash.
Oakley paid $1,000 for Count I, abuse of official capacity, a Class A misdemeanor; $500 for Count II, abuse of official capacity, a Class B misdemeanor; $2,500 for Count III, tamper/fabricate physical evidence with intent to impair, a third-degree felony; and $1,000 for Count IV, official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor.
He is being represented by attorney John C. Carsey of Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey P.C. in Austin.
“I have every confidence that my attorney will be successful in the outcome of addressing these allegations during this process,” Oakley said in a text statement to DailyTrib.com on Thursday.
The four counts relate to two different cases, one concerning his capacity in serving as both a county judge and on the Board of Directors for Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the other about a vehicle accident that occurred in Spicewood in April 2021.
For the first count, the indictment charged that, “on or about the first day of April 2021 through on or about the first day of February 2023,” Oakley violated Texas Local Government Code, Section 171.009 by serving as both county judge and a PEC board member.
Section 171.009 states: “It shall be lawful for a local public official to serve as a member of the board of directors of private, nonprofit corporations when such officials receive no compensation or other remuneration from the nonprofit corporation or other nonprofit entity.”
Oakley began his third, three-year term on the PEC board in June after he was re-elected by cooperative members in District 5. He began his third, four-year term as county judge in January 2023 after being re-elected in the November mid-terms.
PEC directors receive a fixed fee of $3,000 a month as long as they regularly attend meetings, which Oakley does. As county judge, Oakley is paid $86,715 a year for his duties as county judge and $26,400 a year for probate court duties for a total annual salary of $113,115. He is also granted the use of a county vehicle.
Count II lists three dates in 2021 — Sept. 17, Sept. 20, and Oct. 15 — as times he allegedly misused government property by driving a Burnet County-owned vehicle while on PEC business.
The last two counts concern an April 2, 2021, traffic accident that occurred at the intersection of Texas 71 and Burnet County Road 191 in Spicewood.
Count III, a felony, charges Oakley with altering the site “by removing a portion of a vehicle’s bumper from the impact area of the collision with intent to impair its verity and availability as evidence in the investigation,” the indictment reads. In a statement to the media, Oakley admitted removing “a piece of a plastic bumper on the ground to clear for drivers.”
Count IV charges him with subjecting one of the people involved in the accident “to mistreatment that the Defendant (Oakley) knew was unlawful” by moving the bumper.
“ … The defendant was acting under color of his office as Burnet County Judge,” reads the grand jury indictment.
Oakley is expected to be arraigned before a judge sometime in the next 30-45 days, according to District Attorney Sonny McAfee of the 33rd and 424 Judicial District.