Police Chief Melissa Cantu was indicted Wednesday, December 6th, in the 27th judicial district. Lometa lawyer Raika Roe confirmed. Cantu had previously been placed on administrative leave while undergoing an investigation by the city, which came on the tail of a separate investigation done by the DA and the Texas Rangers.
The County’s investigation found Cantu to have violated TX penal code 16.02, which prohibits the unlawful interception, use, or disclosure of wire, oral or electronic communication. In essence, the code prohibits unlawfully obtaining these types of communications, as well as using or disclosing communications knowingly obtained in an unlawful manner. Cantu was indicted not only for unlawfully obtaining (intercepting) the recordings, but also for disclosing that information to third parties.
Following the county’s investigation and subsequent warrant, Cantu was placed on paid administrative leave while a City investigation commenced. The purpose of the City’s investigation was to determine whether employee policy & regulations were violated. According to Rowe, their investigation looked into the recording equipment that was used and whether its use directly violated employee policy. The investigation was conducted in a closed executive session at Tuesday’s Lometa City Council meeting, where Police Commissioner Bob Butler and Park Commissioner Jaelyn Downey presented their findings, according to the posted agenda. Cantu's Administrative leave was scheduled to end Monday, Dec. 4th after the regular meeting of City Council, but that meeting was postponed until Tuesday.
Despite the delay, Cantu's leave did end, and according to Rowe she was free to return to duty Tuesday. Cantu was booked by Lampasas County Sheriff’s Department that Wednesday and has already bonded out at the time this story was written. Going forward, the Mayor will decide on next steps regarding Cantu’s employment, as he oversees the procedures for investigating department heads/employees. For the rest of us, we will just have to wait and see what happens next.