UPDATE 2/18/08: Dallas Morning News is asking questions too!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Date on arrest warrant affidavit is wrong!
Former DART Board Chair Lynn Flint Shaw was arrested earlier this week for allegedly forging a letter from Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins to keep from paying a debt.
The Texas Penal Code says about forgery that a "person commits an offense if he forges a writing with intent to defraud or harm another."
It goes on to say that to do so "is a felony of the third degree if the writing is or purports to be [...] part of an issue of money."
So our question is: why wasn't Lynn Flint Shaw charged with felony forgery?
Better yet, according to records obtained by Dallas.Org (links, below, in the story), why wasn't Shaw charged with a felony at all?
The saga began in early December when, according to the Affidavit for Arrest Warrant or Capias made by Dallas County DA's Investigator Barry Dyson, Shaw mailed an empty envelope to friend Tifany Cheatham, to get Cheatham to believe that Shaw's $3,500 check to her had been stolen in the mail.
On New Years Eve Shaw, according to Dyson, faxed a letter purporting to be from Watkins to Cheatham claiming that the matter was under investigation by the D.A.'s office.
According to Dyson when he examined the letter from Shaw he "recognized the signature on the document in question to be a forgery."
Ironically, the Texas Penal Code says that tampering with a governmental record is "a felony of the second degree [...] if the actor's intent in committing the offense was to defraud or harm another."
One of Dallas.Org's attorneys questioned whether the letter from Watkins might not be able to be construed to be a "governmental record."
So will Shaw's lawyer simply have the charge thrown out--such that Watkins will have to re-file another charge against an old friend?
Better yet, will Shaw get off scott-free at some point down the road? And, since she wasn't charged with a felony or a "crime of moral turpitude" (theft, forgery, etc.), will her path shortly take her to another board or commission appointment?
Only time will tell.
Avi Adelman pointed out that the date on the 3rd paragraph of the Affidavit for Arrest Warrant or Capias is misdated. Instead of 2007, it says 2008. Perhaps this is nothing, in and of itself, but are all the little mistakes going to add up to a dismissal of the charges?
Also, the Dallas Morning News began asking questions about these issues in this morning's editorials noting that nobody from Shaw all the way to the D.A.'s office is talking.
The Morning News points out that a "memo agreement" is forthcoming. Unlike "deferred adjudication," it leaves no marks. Shaw must simply agree to be a good girl from now on and the charges disappear.
We can't help but wonder if this had happened to anyone else, would the D.A. be as "forgiving?"