By MARY RAINWATER
Terry Jean Raybin, 51, of Palestine, was sentenced Wednesday for the charge of misuse of official information to obtain reward money from the Anderson County Crime Stoppers board.
According to District Attorney Doug Lowe, who represented the state in the case, Raybin was sentenced by District Judge Deborah Oakes Evans to six years probation — deferred adjudication, a $1,000 fine, 400 hours of community service and a payment of $1,500 to the Crime Stoppers board.
“Deferred adjudication means that if (Raybin) completes the probation then this would not go on her felony record,” Lowe explained. “This was not part of a plea bargain. I asked the judge to put her in jail.”
Investigators in the case alleged that Raybin, as a secretary for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office (and longtime county employee), used confidential information to obtain $400 in cash reward money for herself that the Crime Stoppers board had authorized for payment of an anonymous tip.
“When a tip is received, the Crime Stoppers Board votes on how much money to send to the tipster,” Lowe explained. “The money is assigned a number and the funds are taken to the bank.
“The tipster gives the bank the number and is supposed to receive the cash.”
Witnesses for the state, including Elkhart Mayor Raymond Dunlap, Klydell Klein and Anderson County Crime Stoppers Coordinator Jeanette Kimbell, testified as to the harm that the incident had caused the Crime Stoppers program.
“In summary, they testified that they felt that this was a really bad thing to happen to such an important organization in the community and that numbers had declined,” Lowe said. “They all felt it was a breach of trust and were very hurt by this.”
Testifying in Raybin’s defense included Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor, Raybin’s pastor Debra White Smith, Neil Wright, Raybin’s husband David Raybin and several other character witnesses.
According to Lowe, those witnesses testified as to Raybin’s contributions to the sheriff’s department and thought she had already been punished enough because she had punished herself so much.
“Her husband testified that she really struggled, and was getting the money to help feed her grandchildren,” Lowe said. “He said he was concerned that putting her in a jail situation might subject her to abuse.”
The charge, a third degree felony, carried the potential punishment of two to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 fine. Since Raybin has no prior criminal history, she also was eligible for probation.
“Crime Stoppers is an important tool for law enforcement that we use to solve crimes and arrest wanted persons we might not otherwise solve or catch,” Lowe said previously. “To work correctly, tippers must have confidence that they will be paid for the information.”
Lowe represented the State of Texas and local attorneys Brenda Hicks and Jeff Coe represented Raybin.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org