Grand Jury No-Bills Ron Wood
Williamson County Sun, May 1, 1988
Insufficient Evidence to Prosecute Commissioner Ron Wood
According to informed sources at the Courthouse in Williamson County, Texas, a grand jury this week returned two no-bills against Precinct 1 Commissioner Ron Wood. A no-bill means that the grand jury determined there was insufficient evidence to warrant prosecution of Wood.
What Provoked the Investigation?
The grand jury investigation stemmed, in part, from charges of political corruption leveled by Round Rock Mayor, Mike Robinson, at a February 19 press conference. Robinson said Commissioner Ron Wood, a Republican, visited Robinson at his City Hall office on February 11 and threatened retaliation against the Round Rock City Council and the city if council members supported former Round Rock Councilman, Mike Heiligenstein (the Democrat challenging Wood’s reelection efforts).
“They had better hope that Heiligenstein wins, because if not, the council and the city would be raped for four long years,” Robinson quoted Wood as saying. Wood denied he had threatened the mayor, but said he had asked him to remain neutral. Wood said his only aggressive statement at that time was promising to help defeat Robinson in any bid he might make for county judge 1990.
The Investigation Begins
Six days after Mayor Robinson’s press conference, a special prosecutor was called in from Belton, Texas to present evidence at a grand jury hearing investigating Wood after Williamson County district, Attorney Ken Anderson, requested someone else be appointed because of an “apparent conflict of interest.”
Belton attorney, Jim Kreimeyer, said Thursday that the grand jury listened to a tape, read several documents and heard from seven witnesses during some nine hours of hearings. Among those subpoenaed to testify at the hearing were Judge John Carter, Commissioners Jerry Mehevec and Raymond Rister, former Commissioner Carl Lidell, District Attorney Anderson, and Assistant County Attorney Sara Naylor. The 12-member jury deliberated about 15 minutes before returning the no-bills, he said. “There were never any charges against Wood per se,” the special prosecutor said. “This was only an investigation. I’m thoroughly shocked that everybody over there knew about it in the first place. This was supposed to be a secret hearing.”
Robert M. Phillips is Assigned to the Case
Wood hired attorney Robert M. Phillips “immediately” after Mayor Robinson’s press conference, Phillips said. Phillips, who represented Wood during the grand jury hearing Thursday, called the investigation a “very scary and extremely deplorable exploitation of the criminal justice process.”
“Mayor Robinson complained that Wood had in some sense corruptly threatened him,” Phillips said. “The transcript of the conversation shows clearly that all Ron Wood did was threaten to work against the political ambitions of the mayor in 1990 if the mayor worked against Ron Wood’s campaign this year. That is not a crime.”
“I personally think that Ken Anderson should have never referred it to a grand jury,” Phillips added. “My opinion is that this entire matter would have stopped dead in its tracks at the DA’s office if it had involved somebody other than Ron Wood.”
Wood Maintains His Innocence and is Gratified by the Grand Jury
In a press release issued just after the no-bills were returned, Wood said he was “gratified by the findings of the grand jury.”
“Until Tuesday evening, I could only hope that truth and justice would prevail against lies and partisan politics,” Wood stated. “…All along, I’ve maintained my innocence of the charges brought against me by the major of Round Rock. It is clear to me, and I must believe that it was also clear to the grand jury, that these accusations were politically motivated, and without substance. This man was wiling to tape record a private conversation, wait until I was out of town before accusing me, and mislead the press and the people – all as an excuse to use his non-partisan office to endorse his buddy.”
Mayor Robinson declined to comment on the no-bills, saying he would issue a public statement at a later date.