HICO - Michael Dunton, owner of Mike’s Mechanical Services in Hico, is worried.

Worried he may lose his livelihood if the state pulls his electrical license.

Worried that a press release issued by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) makes him look like he knowingly participated in a scam to defraud the state.

In a letter to a TDLR investigator, Dunton said, “I entered into the licensing program in good faith. Most of the applicants for state licenses receive their license before I did. We all sat down after receiving our test results and filled out our applications. I may be guilty of darkening the wrong circle or misunderstanding the content or intent.”

Patrick Shaughnessy, media contact for TDLR, says that Dunton’s license will be revoked, although Dunton still can request a hearing.

He said the state will order a cease and desist of Dunton’s business and he will be unable to reapply for one year. Shaunghnessy said the problem is in Dunton’s application.

“He checked a box that stated he had held a local license for one year,” Shaugnhessy said in a telephone interview. “Every applicant that did, knew that wasn’t true. They knew when they signed and it sinks them like a stone.”

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s office arrested Rual Chavez, former City of Hico Code Enforcement Officer, on January 18.

The release states that the charges against Chavez were three counts of tampering with a government record for providing false documentation. That documentation allowed three individuals that were unqualified to receive state electrical licenses.

The press release, issued by TDLR said: “TDLR had identified 17 individuals who participated in Chavez’ scheme and received state licenses. Three of those individuals already have surrendered their state-issued licenses and the TDLR is seeking to revoke the remaining 14 licenses.”

Shaugnhessy said because the three individuals had willingly surrendered their licenses there would be no proceeding against them. He said the other 14 individuals chose not to surrender their licenses so the TDLR will proceed with moving against the individuals administratively. He said the TDLR does not plan to file any criminal charge against them.

ANGELIA JOINER is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at angelia.joiner@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 238.