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Granite Shoals City Councilor Phil Ort on Sept. 22 pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of vandalism for keying a car in the Marble Falls H-E-B parking lot in October 2021. He must pay a $500 fine and $3,886.80 in restitution for damage to the vehicle as well as serve a 24-month deferred adjudication probation.

The councilor faced a state jail felony charge, but it was dropped to class A misdemeanor criminal mischief as part of a plea deal that included the fine, reimbursement, and probation. 

Ort was arrested in December 2021 by Marble Falls Police Department Investigator Aaron Garcia, who was elected to the Granite Shoals council in May 2022. He served alongside Ort as councilor, mayor pro-tem, and then mayor after Will Skinner resigned the position in October 2022.

In March of this year, Ort’s wife, Suzanne Ort, filed several complaints against Garcia for how he handled the council’s city manager job search. Garcia and several Granite Shoals residents claimed the complaints were filed in retaliation for his arrest of Ort. After three months of consideration by an ethics committee, Garcia was issued a letter of reprimand by the city for one of Suzanne Ort’s complaints, while the rest were dismissed. Garcia did not file for re-election this year and is no longer on the council. 

Phil Ort’s case began as a class A misdemeanor and was in the Burnet County Court at Law until November 2022. It was upgraded to a state jail felony and moved to District Court when damages to the vehicle came in at over $2,500.

The case was pushed back five times before a conclusion was finally reached. 

Judge J. Allan Garrett of the 33rd District Court oversaw Ort’s case. During the proceedings, he questioned the councilor’s plea in open court.

“Are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty of that (class A misdemeanor)?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did anybody make any special promises to you outside of this agreement to try and get you to say you were guilty?”

“No, sir.”

“Did anybody threaten you harass you or intimidate you in any way?”

“No, sir.”

Ort will be on probation for the next two years. If he abides by the terms of his probation, the misdemeanor will not become part of his permanent record per the deferred adjudication process.