Eight arrested on federal
conspiracy drug charges
By Sheila Kunick
VAN ZANDT-Eight people were arrested May 9 on federal drug conspiracy
The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office working in conjunction with the
Texas Department of Public Safety – Narcotics Unit, U.S. Federal
Marshals, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office worked together to bring this
intensive investigation closer to completion.
A total of nine federal sealed grand jury indictments were issued for
the suspects. The investigation is still ongoing, however, and other
arrests will be made.
Three of the suspects – Ronald Greg Null, 53, Canton; Rannell Grace
Payne, 26, Campbell; and Rodney Ray West, 20, Dallas – were arrested on
Null and Payne also have pending drug charges in Kaufman County.
The other suspects, Julie Darlene Null, 41, Myrtle Springs; Randy Lynn
Williams, 40, Canton; Kyle Rodney Wilson, 40, Bronson; Thomas Jean Hill,
47, Whitney; and Clayton Don Penix, 25, Mabank; were already in custody
when the conspiracy charges were added to their existing charges.
Erica Delores Hernandez, Dallas, is still wanted in connection with this
Anyone with information on Hernandez are encouraged to contact the Van
Zandt County Sheriff’s Office or CrimeStoppers.
The suspects are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with
intent to distribute controlled substance, methamphetamine, and use of
communication facilities to facilitate the commission of a felony.
“A lot of man-hours went into this investigation, and a lot of hard work
by some very dedicated officers made this investigation a success,” Van
Zandt County Sheriff R.P. “Pat” Burnett said.
The majority of the suspects were already in jail. DPS and Van Zandt
County officers made the two additional arrests on State Highway 198. A
third suspect was arrested in Dallas, he added.
“The DPS Narcotics Division is housed here, they train our officers. We
share intelligence with each other. It is a very hand-in-hand operation.
We use DPS protocol. We are coming into the modern age of drug
enforcement here in Van Zandt County. This is an ongoing investigation –
this is not the last that you are going to hear of this. We are not just
trying to get the little guy on the street, but we are going to the
top,” Burnett added.
Each of the suspects arrested face 10 years to life on the charges of
conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute
methamphetamine. Prior criminal history will also play a part in the
sentencing. Each of the defendants have lengthy criminal histories.
The telephone conspiracy charge is five years per call, if convicted.
One of the defendants grossed $300,000 in one year from methamphetamine
sales, most conducted over the phone.
“A majority of these suspects are Van Zandt County residents. These
people were major suppliers in this area, and it will make it more
difficult to get methamphetamine in Van Zandt County with these
defendants off the street,” Burnett said.
An undercover DPS Narcotics officer on the scene said that this type of
investigation and arrests sends a strong message to the distributors and
dealers in the area.
He gave a warning to drug dealers and distributors in the area, “The
next five words that you will hear, is ‘Will the defendant please
as Texas Rising Star
Special to The Monitor
ATHENS–Athens attorney Steven R. Green has been selected as a Texas
Rising Star by Texas Monthly magazine.
Green was designated a Rising Star in the criminal defense category for
the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
He was the only lawyer from Henderson County and from East Texas named
in this category.
The announcement was published in the March issue of Texas Monthly as
well as a special publication of Texas Monthly titled “Law and
Texas Rising Stars are outstanding young attorneys representing a wide
range of practice areas, firm sizes and geographic locations.
Green is a 1984 graduate of Mabank High School, a 1991 graduate of the
University of Texas at Tyler and a 1997 graduate of Texas Wesleyan
school of law.
He practices law in Athens with attorneys Mike Head, Nolan Wickel and
Brian Schmidt, practicing criminal, family and general civil litigation.
He resides in Athens with his wife, Janet and daughter Lauren.
He also serves on the board of directors for the Texas Criminal Defense
Lawyers Association as well as the Athens Country Club and he is second
vice president for the Tyler Lone Star Chapter of Football Officials.
CCL Library sets summer reading
Special to The Monitor
SEVEN POINTS–The Library at Cedar Creek Lake has released its Summer
Reading Schedule, featuring free programs for area youth.
Special Performers at 10 a.m. Tuesdays:
• June 6 – Celtic folk guitarist and recording artist Jeb Marum.
• June 13 – Henderson County Performing Arts Center presents “The
• June 20 – Logan the Juggler.
• June 27 – Ventriloquist Cindy Robinson.
• July 11 – Dog Show presented by Joan Guertin.
Story Time is set for 10 a.m. Wednesdays
• For ages 3-6 – Story Time with Miss Linda (Story Time with Miss Kathy
• For ages 10 and up, Film Production Workshop.
• For ages 7-9
June 7 and June 14 – Volcanoes
June 21 – Let’s Get Gross and Ice Cream in a Bag
June 28 – Let’s Make Waves and Tornadoes
A children’s Spanish class is being set up. Contact The Library for
• Etiquette, Acting and Modeling Workshop (Youth Only). Class limited to
10 students – cost $75. Get registration forms at The Library.
Classes will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. two Saturdays, June 10 and
• Youth Acting Classes. Class limited to 20 students – cost $100. Get
registration forms at The Library.
Lessons will be held Monday, July 17, through Friday, July 28. Ages 8-12
will meet from 9 a.m. to noon, with age 13-18 meeting from 1-5 p.m.