Eastham Prison Officials Indicted

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – In July of 2018, three Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) officials were arrested after they allegedly attempted to destroy evidence in an investigation conducted by the Office of the Inspector General (IG).

Almost a year later – in June – indictments were handed down for 38-year-old Jason Omelina, from Crockett, 56-year-old Rick Ellis, from Huntsville and 56-year-old Terry Price, from Lovelady.

Omelina was indicted on theft charges and tampering with evidence while Price and Ellis were indicted on charges of tampering with evidence.

The three men were alleged to have been part of a scheme to steal farm equipment and equipment parts from the Eastham Prison Unit, located outside of Lovelady.

An article published in the Houston Chronicle on Sunday, July 14 stated Investigators with IG’s Office cast their eyes upon Eastham “… in July 2018 after fielding complaints about prison workers allegedly stealing farm equipment from the facility.”

According to the original arrest affidavits, Price was Ellis’ supervisor and Ellis supervised Omelina, who worked at the Eastham Unit as the farm shop manager.

The affidavits further stated when Price became aware of the IG investigation into the theft of state property, he authorized the destruction of the surplus parts and equipment at the farm shop.

While attempts by The Messenger to contact the attorneys for the three men were unsuccessful, the Chronicle reported Ellis’ attorney issued a statement at the time of his arrest in 2018.

“This isn’t some big collusion out there to bury some evidence. I am honestly lost as to why they think the facts as alleged in the probable cause statement support the prosecution of a crime,” attorney Bryan Cantrell said.

Officials from TDCJ were contacted, however, they also referenced statements made at the time of the arrests.

“Integrity is one of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s core values. The department is committed to rooting out wrongdoing and holding employees accountable,” TDCJ spokesman Jeremy Desel said last year.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

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