STINNETT, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Jason Collier, former Stinnett Police Chief – who resigned and was arrested on fraud charges after a scandal went viral on Facebook in January – was indicted last week on June 2 for two counts of Tampering with a Governmental Document, according to 84th District Attorney Mark Snider.
The new charge involves a second victim.
In late January, Collier was put on administrative leave and arrested by the Texas Rangers and a criminal investigation was opened after, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Cindy Barkley, he allegedly texted a fraudulent marriage annulment to a victim.
Sgt. Barkley said Collier was charged with tampering with a government document with the intent to defraud, a state jail felony. She said Collier’s bond was set at $10,000. (Left: Jason Collier, via Hutchinson County Jail.)
These charges emerged after an Amarillo woman named Cecily Steinmetz posted to Facebook saying she was engaged to Collier before she learned he was married. Steinmetz’s original post has gone viral—shared tens of thousands of times, even internationally.
MyHighPlains.com staff spoke with Steinmetz at the time, who alleged Collier sent her a fake annulment document. Steinmetz said the photo of an annulment document below is from Collier, which she included in her Facebook post.
“…he was like, ‘Well, you know, I’ll get you the annulment,’ and he’s like, ‘Just hold on.’ I was like, ‘Okay, you know, let me see it then,’ and he sent that to me. And I told him, I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to take this at face value, I’m going to check it out with Potter County,’” Steinmetz said. “I did not think it was right in his position to be presenting people with a false document like that.”
According to Judge Woodburn of the 108th District Court, no match existed for the noted name or cause number on the document Collier sent to Steinmetz.
A statement given that week by Stinnet City Manager Durk Downs said, “The City of Stinnett is aware of the current situation surrounding the Chief of Police Jason Collier. The city is taking this seriously and will be looking into any violations of city policy. As per city policy, we will refrain from commenting on any personal issues of personnel in a public forum.”
That Thursday evening, another statement was issued to the city’s Facebook page confirming Collier’s resignation from his position as Chief of Police.
Collier, who previously worked as a detective with the Pampa Police Department, was awarded the Medal of Valor by the State of Texas in 2016 for helping to save the life of Sgt. Houston Gass. Collier and three other officers were awarded for their quick thinking in getting Sgt. Gass to safety after he was shot in the face during a standoff.
The community of Stinnett was shaken by the scandal’s rise to the limelight, with residents like Aaron DeLuna noting that, “It feels like we went viral but in reality, it’s just a small town, you know? So we’re living day by day. It’s kind of just happened out of nowhere,”
Reactions from locals gained by the MyHighPlains.com crew that week had a range of comments about the situation.
“Well, he was a good dude. You know, I thought he was, but uh, he was always being nice and always always a good person to me,” DeLuna said. “You know, I never had a problem with him. I didn’t see anyone else had a problem with him, but I guess he screwed up doing the wrong thing.”
One resident who did not want to be identified told us, “I was incredibly shocked. I will tell you here that I had a huge incident and he helped me. He was kind, generous, and on top of the situation. He was concerned for my safety and made sure to tell me that if I needed anything not to hesitate to call.”
That unnamed resident went on to say, “My heart BREAKS for this family. Both [his wife’s name] and his previous wife have been slammed with messages, calls, magazines, tv series, etc. Trying to get info…Their kids have been treated poorly and [his wife’s name] has been questioned as to why she didn’t see signs.”
When asked if this is the type of thing he would want his town to go viral for, DeLuna said, “No, not at all. It’s not a good thing. But you know, it’s it was his—his thing, his flaw. So I guess you got to deal with it.”
Jason Collier bonded out of the Hutchinson County Jail on Jan. 28, according to Hutchinson County Officials.
In early February, it was reported by her attorney that Jason Collier’s wife had received thousands of harassing phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media comments after the viral post. She also filed for divorce.
“Mrs. Collier has discontinued the use of all social media accounts in her name for the foreseeable future. She respectfully requests that members of the media and community respect her privacy and the privacy of her family at this time,” according to the law firm’s news release.
In March, following the scandal and bonding out of the Hutchinson County Jail, Collier released a book claiming to cover his side of the story. ‘Texted Lies, Whispered Truths: Jason Collier’s Story’ was released for paperback or digital purchase.
The book summary began, “It started with one simple picture shared on social media. Something that happens almost every day in almost everyone’s life. But for Jason Collier, that one little photo turned his world upside down. The then-police chief of Stinnett, Texas, found himself as the butt of a weary, embattled nation’s jokes.”
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