Paul Calvin Tyus, who had entered the Erath County Sheriff’s race as an independent candidate trying to unseat incumbent Matt Coates, turned himself into authorities Friday morning and was charged with two criminal offenses.
Tyus, 50, was accused of falsifying information on an election petition to get his name on the November ballot.
He was charged with fraudulent use or possession of identifying information – a first degree felony carrying a range of punishment of five-99 years or life in prison; and tampering with a governmental record – a state jail felony carrying a range of punishment of 180 days to two years in a state jail prison facility.
Tyus heard word of a warrant out for his arrest Friday morning and arrived at Erath County Jail with his attorney, Heath Allen, to turn himself in, where he was arraigned.
His bond was set at a total of $25,000 for both charges and he was released from jail on Friday.
"The warrant was issued yesterday (Thursday) and he turned himself into the jail [Friday] morning and posted bond," Alan Nash, district attorney, told the E-T Friday afternoon.
District Attorney Investigator Edward Gordon sent out a news release depicting the results of the investigation into Tyus’ forgeries.
Jennifer Carey, tax assessor, noticed inconsistencies on Tyus’ petition for a place on the ballot on Aug. 20, and made a call to Nash. It was discovered that Tyus had forged two signatures on his ballot – signatures from residents in the county who had since passed away.
There were also similarities in the handwriting written in dozens of signatures and some voters’ dates of birth depicted in the petition were incorrect.
Carey pulled up digital images of on-file voter registration cards and verified that numerous signatures on the petition did not match the signatures on file.
From Aug. 26 through Sept. 2, Gordon called various voters listed on the petition to verify the validity of their signatures.
"In addition to the two deceased persons whose names were on the petition, of the first 63 persons interviewed by the D.A. Investigator, Edward Gordon, 56 verified that the signatures purporting to belong to them were forgeries," Nash said.
Gordon inspected the 58 pages in the petition and noted on each page, there was an "Affidavit of Circular," which contained an oath signed by Tyus, where he verified that he had personally observed each signature placed on the petition.
"I called each signer's attention to the above statements and read them to the signer before the signer affixed their signature to the petition. I witnessed the affixing of each signature. The correct date of signing is shown on the petition. I verified each signer's registration status and believe that each signature is the genuine signature of the person whose name is signed and that the corresponding information for each signer is correct," the oath reads.
Gordon has not contacted every person whose name, address and date of birth were used in the petition. As the investigation continues, should more persons come forward or be identified as victims, the account of those individuals will be documented in the developing case file in this matter.
Any person who knows information regarding the scope of and parties to the fraudulent activity may contact Gordon at 254-965-1462.