by Jake Dominy
MADISONVILLE, TX — A police sergeant and a Madison County DA Investigator enacted a plan to frame an innocent citizen with felony drug charges. When caught and found guilty, his malicious scheme to ruin someone’s life only earned him a paltry sentence of 30 days in jail — just a fraction of what he intended to inflict on his victim.
The incident took place in November 2011, when Madisonville Police Sergeant Jeff Covington and his ex-wife Laura were going through a custody battle. Sgt. Covington devised a plan to wipe Laura out of the picture, send her to prison, ruin her life and reputation, and allow him to seize control of their children.
Covington followed through with his devious plan. He had a confidential narcotics informant, Jeremy Kidd, plant methamphetamines in Laura’s vehicle, and then tipped off a Texas DPS trooper that the vehicle was “riding dirty” (carrying narcotics). The trooper followed up on Covington’s tip, stopped Laura, and found the meth. Laura Covington, who was 7-months pregnant at the time, was placed under arrest. She was booked at the Madison County Jail on felony charges for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Sgt. Covington’s plan had worked. Laura was arrested and faced charges that would destroy her credibility for the rest of her life. She lost custody of the two children, just as Covington had hoped.
The plan started to unravel when prosecutors detected that something was amiss. Laura passed several drug tests and it became clear that her ex-husband had instigated the stop. Even during the traffic stop, Laura was on video suggesting that this was a scheme hatched by her ex. Assistant Attorney General David Glickler dismissed the charges in January 2012. ABC News reported Laura’s reaction:
“Being arrested when I was seven months pregnant, going to jail, and then having my two young children taken from me was a nightmare that still causes me pain to this day,” she told ABC News. “It’s like a bad dream, but the sad thing is that it’s not a dream because it actually happened.”
“Having my babies taken from me was the worst part about this entire ordeal and if Jeff would have succeeded in his scheme, I could have lost them forever. My family and I will move on, but I will always be looking over my shoulder,” Laura Covington said.
Jeff Covington was charged, rightly so, with multiple crimes stemming from the scheme. After going to trial and facing a jury, he was convicted of retaliation. Covington waived his right to an appeal in exchange for the state dismissing two other charges – delivery of a controlled substance and official oppression.
Former Madison County District Attorney’s investigator Justin Barham was indicted by a grand jury the Friday before and had been charged with official oppression and delivery of a controlled substance. Later those charges were all dropped. More on him later lets get back to Covington.
After the Madison County DA recused his office of prosecution and the Texas Attorney General appointed special prosecutor to the case things looked up. Justice appeared to have been served until the disappointing sentence was issued. Covington was sentenced to only 30 days in jail, and probation time. The sentence shocked many who read it.
Laura, who says she “lived in fear for a long time” will only be able enjoy one month of peace without her malicious, criminal ex-husband on the streets.
Under Texas current drug laws, Laura faced the possibility of serving multiple years in prison, as a part of her ex-husband’s scheme. Jeff’s actions were far more morally repulsive and dangerous to society than a person possessing a controlled substance , but he got off with a fraction of the punishment he aimed to inflict. Question; Where were the Texas Rangers in this case?
During one of several traumatic incidents of Laura and her families nightmare in Madisonville a CPS investigation took place regarding the children. It was over nothing she had done but what her husband was believed to have done to one of the children. During the brief CPS investigation a Texas Ranger made an appearance and justified Jeff Covington’s actions as undue stress inflicted upon him. If any one of you had abused your children badly enough to bring in CPS I seriously doubt the Texas Ranger’s are going to vouch for you and run interference. Family members of Laura advised the ranger stared them down in a intimidating manner.
Yet officers who are caught and convicted of abusing their power are frequently let off with little to no punishment. In another Texas story, a DPS trooper was sentenced to zero days in jail after being found guilty of “officially oppressing” two innocent women with disturbing roadside body-cavity searches.
It is unnerving that they find it appropriate to deliver draconian prison sentences to people who have never committed violence nor victimized anyone, while simultaneously giving slaps on the wrists to brutal and oppressive law enforcement officials proven to be abusing citizens with their official powers.
In the aftermath, a Civil Rights Case is now ongoing in Federal Court for 5 Million Dollars and Jeff Covington is remarried and has signed away his parental rights to the children. The Federal Judge recently ruled in the case that … “ORDERED to remove the City of Madisonville, Madisonville Police Department, and
any individual defendants in their “official-capacities” from the caption of this case.”
Also of interest is that in the Federal Pleadings of the case Jeff Covington, Justin Barham and Jeremy Kidd are named conspirators however it also uses the term, “others.” If you have read about the case in the past you might recall the Madison County DA recused his office from any prosecution of the conspirators. It is actually said he used his influence to have the charges later dismissed again Barham. A Madison County Grand Jury did indict him yes. Most likely that was a dog and pony show to facilitate camera crews and reporters from local television stations. Thus far the only one of the trio to go to jail for any length of time has been Jeremy Kidd.
Not surprising the Madison County authorities would prefer you the reader to not know what is going in Federal Court with that Civil Rights case. They really do not want a lot of things revealed. Like maybe who those “others” are and what exactly did the “others” do?
This is the case if anyone wants to keep up with it.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
VS. CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:13-CV-03300
JEFFERY COVINGTON, et al,
******************* UPDATE *******************
A page from that Federal Case for the general reader. As one can see the Madisonville Police Department had knowledge of Covington’s actions before he implemented them with Barham. In addition the Police Chief was warned by a Madisonville PD Officer and chose to ignore that warning as everyone else chose to do until the confidential informant urged by others came forward and confessed. That folks is corruption in a bag.
(click to read)