Gravell pleads guilty to violating stay-at-home order

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By ANTHONY FLORES
Staff Writer

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the violation of a stay-at-home order he enacted on March 24 related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a plea agreement, Gravell and his attorney William Hines agreed to pay a fine of $1,000. In exchange, the State will decline any further prosecution for Abuse of Official Capacity or Official Oppression.

“He’s paying the maximum fine, and that’s even though nobody else has ever been prosecuted under that statute,” said Hines. “He said, ‘You know what, I am the leader of this community, and I violated my order. As a grandfather, I went to see my grandson, and I’m going to pay a $1,000 fine for that speeding ticket level offense.’ The rangers exonerated and cleared him of any other wrongdoing.”

The complaint, filed by Robert McCabe, accused Judge Gravell of having a Williamson County Sheriff’s deputy drive him and his wife to the Jarrell Fire Department. The complaint says that Gravell then dressed in firefighter gear and a respirator he obtained in Jarrell before being driven to his grandson’s birthday party.

The incident was captured on video by a neighbor and shared on a Twitter account called “Buddy Falcon” which McCabe commented on, saying it was an abuse of official capacity.

Shortly after, Gravell reached out to McCabe through Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick. In a three-way call, with Dick on the line listening, McCabe says that Gravell asked for the removal of the photos shared on the “Buddy Falcon” Twitter page. McCabe informed him he did not have any involvement or control of the account and its postings.

The complaint states that Gravell admitted that he was aware he could face prosecution for his actions. Then asked if McCabe could take action against the site for the removal of the photos. After a heated back and forth between McCabe and Gravell, where McCabe admonished Gravell for his actions, Gravell disconnected the call, and McCabe and Dick discussed further action.

District Attorney Dick forwarded the complaint as a criminal referral to County Attorney Dee Hobbs. Hobbs passed it on, believing it to be a conflict of interest as his job includes acting as legal counsel for the commissioner’s court.

The complaint made its way into the hands of Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht before landing in the lap of the Milam County District Attorney’s Office. With the aid of the Texas Rangers, Milam County began its investigation leading to Gravell’s eventual guilty plea and plea bargain.

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