Texas Rangers say an Ellis County Sheriff's Deputy went from catching criminals to being one.
Lt. Philip Slaughter, the former head of the criminal investigation division, is in jail accused of stealing and pawning guns from the evidence room he was in charge of and altering government documents, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
The affidavit also revealed Slaughter got a judge to sign an order making it appear the weapons were legally destroyed. Instead, the records show he sold them.
An Ennis pawn shop alerted police it bought stolen weapons on April 14. The affidavit says the pawn tickets put the pistols in Slaughter’s hands. Slaughter was arrested the next day in Cedar Hill.
Former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Pete Schulte does not represent anyone in this case but says the ramifications of the allegations against slaughter could be far reaching.
"Big problem. This is a huge problem,” said Schulte. “This is the worst nightmare for a police chief or a sheriff."
Records show Slaughter was directly responsible for the evidence room from October to November 2015. He had been with the sheriff’s office since October 2001. Raising even more suspicion, court documents show the 15-year veteran officer abruptly resigned on March 28, a little more than two weeks before the investigation even began.
"It could be huge,” said Schulte. “There could be people convicted of crimes where the evidence was theoretically tampered with that they're entitled to a new trial."
Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson told FOX 4 he's still trying to determine if Slaughter may have been involved in any other issues while he oversaw the criminal investigative division and the evidence room.
The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office released a statement to FOX 4 saying they will “continue to cooperate with the Texas Rangers during this investigation. No further information will be released until the Texas Rangers investigation is completed.”
Slaughter is charged with tampering with a government record, tampering/fabricating physical evidence with intent to impair, and three counts of theft of property. He remains in the Wayne McCollum Detention Center on bonds totaling $510,000.
The Texas Rangers declined to comment on the case.