TRIAL DATE SET

Former sheriff James Sigman became the first Texas County officeholder in 45 years to be charged with a crime when he and his then chief deputy and girlfriend, Jennifer Tomaszewski, were arrested July 18, 2018.

The former sheriff of Texas County will stand trial in January that he abused the powers of his office that led to his removal after a grand jury indictment. 

James Sigman, who was charged in July 2018, will appear before a Phelps County jury in Rolla on Jan. 29-31. Circuit Judge John Beger made the decision during a conference call last week. The case is a civil matter filed by Special Prosecutor Don Trotter of Lawrence County that Sigman was unable to fulfill his duties as sheriff.

Trotter alleges Sigman willingly failed to enforce criminal laws of the state, failed to suppress and quell assaults, misused official information and committed forgery. Sigman has denied the allegations. After his departure, an acting sheriff was named, and eventually an election held to name a replacement, the current sheriff, Scott Lindsey of Licking.

Following the Texas County grand jury indictment, Sigman became the first local officeholder in 45 years to be charged with a crime when he and Jennifer Tomaszewski, who authorities said were involved in a romantic relationship, were arrested while on duty at the Texas County Justice Center.

A report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Sigman allowed Tomaszewski to impersonate an officer on multiple occasions, threaten bodily harm to others and physically abuse inmates. Their attorney, Jason Coatney, has denied the charges and alleged police misconduct in the investigation, which included a warrant to search the sheriff’s department before Sigman’s departure.

While Tomaszewski carried out the wrongdoings in the report, 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 on a felony forgery charge. Tomaszewski was charged with two counts of forgery in December.

Beger asked last week that the various cases be consolidated into a document that uses a single court file number. He ruled that pending evidentiary matters in the various criminal cases be heard during the Jan. 29-31 period.

Both defendants are free on bond.

Texas County also faces two federal lawsuits alleged mistreatment by former inmates during Sigman’s tenure.

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