SIGMAN CASE

Texas County Sheriff James Sigman appears in court in July 2018 inside the Texas County Justice Center. 

An appearance on criminal charges against the former sheriff of Texas County and a deputy is slated for Friday, Oct. 23, in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

James Sigman faces prosecution on numerous felony charges for alleged misconduct while in office.

He resigned formally in January 2020 following a three-hour hearing that had been slated to determine whether he should be formally tossed from office. Fifteen people had been scheduled to testify in the matter had there been a hearing. Ten more were on standby. Sigman instead issued a written resignation.

A trial set for Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 was postponed.

Sigman stepped away from the office where he was arrested in July 2018 in the sheriff’s office following a Texas County grand jury indictment and was whisked away in a state patrol car to Greene County, where he posted bond at the county jail.  Special prosecutor is Don Trotter of Lawrence County. Sigman’s legal counsel is Jason Coatney of Springfield.

The hearing next week comes in advance of a criminal trial for Sigman and a former employee, Jennifer Tomaszewski, who was the administrator of the county jail before being fired by the county upon the indictment.

Both are set to stand trial in Pulaski County on a change of venue from Texas County. They are free on $500,000 bond each.

Upon his arrest in July 2018, Sigman was removed under a quo warranto procedure and the county coroner assumed duties the following morning. The Texas County Commission named a former sheriff’s department detective, Rowdy Douglas, to run the department as interim sheriff. In November 2018, county voters elected Scott Lindsey to replace Sigman. Lindsey faces no opposition in this year’s election for a four-year term.

Following the indictment, Sigman became the first Texas County officeholder in 45 years to be charged with a crime when he and Jennifer Tomaszewski were arrested while on duty inside the Texas County Justice Center. A report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Sigman allowed the woman whom he hired to run the jail and engaged in a romantic relationship –Tomaszewski – to impersonate an officer on multiple occasions, threaten bodily harm to others and physically abuse inmates.

While Tomaszewski carried out the wrongdoings alleged in the charges, authorities said Sigman was present for the incidents and allowed them. They both were charged with similar crimes: first-degree felony assault, first-degree robbery, felony first-degree endangering the welfare of a child, felony unlawful use of a weapon, felony harassment, felony endangering the welfare of a child, second degree; misdemeanor misuse of official information by a public servant and misdemeanor false impersonation. Sigman was charged again in October 2018 on a felony forgery charge. Tomaszewski was charged with two counts of forgery in December 2018.

Before the charges, about 50 sheriff’s department employees left the employment of the county — after either being fired or quitting. Texas County’s insurance company conducted an investigation amid the rumblings in the sheriff’s department. Nearly all of the department’s deputies left, but rejoined the department after Sigman was charged and arrested. One federal lawsuit alleging mistreatment in the county jail while Sigman was sheriff was settled late last year for $30,000 to a former inmate and another $76,128 in legal fees. A second federal lawsuit was dismissed.

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