According to Karnes County Attorney Herb Hancock, Deputy Jim Pearce resigned recently, but Hancock said he was not under investigation. Beyond that, Hancock declined to talk at this time about the circumstances which led up to Pearce’s decision to step down.
“There are some unanswered questions,” Hancock said.
Pearce, during an interview with The Karnes Countywide on Aug. 24, said he decided to resign on Aug. 14 after he found out that County Commissioner Pete Jauer had obtained copies of several private email messages that he had sent to a group of friends.
According to Pearce, Commissioner Jauer visited Pearce’s home on Aug. 12 and showed him several emails and asked if someone had breached or hacked into his computer.
“That was it,” Pearce said. “I didn’t respond at all.”
Pearce said he has been sending the emails regularly to keep different people up to date on various incidents and situations involving county officials.
“Information that was given to me,” Pearce said. “I passed it on to people who I felt like care about the county and do not like to see the direction that the county judge... This is my own personal opinion, that she has made the laughingstock of our county, of 254 counties in the state of Texas,” Pearce said regarding numerous personal conflicts he has seen develop between the county judge, other county officials and local residents.
Pearce said he could tell that Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva has recently been under a lot of pressure, with various controversies and recent investigations of officers employed by the sheriff’s office.
Because of the current turmoil surrounding the sheriff’s office, Pearce said that he felt it would be best for everyone concerned if he resigned from his position as deputy.
The reason he joined the department, Pearce said, was to help bring under control commercial truck traffic safety issues that have dramatically increased as a result of the development of oil and gas production as part of the development of the Eagle Ford Shale. Pearce worked for the sheriff’s office as its special operations unit license and weights deputy.
“This is not the Mayberry RFD we used to live in two years ago,” Pearce said. “This is a completely different world. My expertise came from the highway patrol and the trucks. I think in the last seven months I filed over a thousand cases, from overweight trucks, to trucks running stop signs.”
Kyle Shaw, who is the husband of Karnes County Judge Barbara Shaw, shared with The Karnes Countywide a copy of one of the emails that Pearce sent. The email, dated May 16, had been forwarded from then Chief Deputy Russell Swize’s business email account to the email account he used at the sheriff’s office. Pearce confirmed the email was the same as one of the emails that was shown to him by Commissioner Jauer when Jauer visited Pearce at his home. Several county officials and county employees are among those listed as recipients of the emails. The first line reads, “This email is for the use of Patriot members only.”
When asked how he obtained copies of the emails, Shaw said, “The copy of the email from Jim Pearce appeared like numerous others from Swize Insurance through an open records request.”
The Karnes Countywide reached out to Commissioner Pete Jauer for comment regarding the emails.
Jauer said someone gave him copies of the emails, but he declined to reveal the identity of the person who gave them to him.