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Rancher's Assault Case Resolved With Lesser Charge, Probation

Brewster County Sheriff's deputies respond to a scene at the Alpine staging site for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline in May 2015 (Chris Sweeney)

A Brewster County rancher who was facing possible jail time for allegedly assaulting a sheriff’s deputy has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, a move that settles the case without a jury trial.

The assault allegation stemmed from an incident at the Alpine staging site for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, where rancher Tom Beard was arrested for trespassing after reportedly refusing to leave the site when instructed to by a Brewster County sheriff's deputy.

Beard was later charged with third degree felony assault after authorities said he stomped on Deputy Doug McIntyre's foot during the arrest.

As part of the plea deal, Beard agreed to a lesser charge of Interference With Public Duties. He'll serve six months probation, lose his handgun permit, and pay $500 in court costs and fines.

Reports at the time of the arrest said Beard - also a county groundwater district board member - was at the site trying to find out information about a water well the district believed the pipeline building contractor Pumpco, Inc. was using without a permit.

The Big Bend Sentinel spoke with Conrad Arriola, the district's manager:

“We went out there to see if we could find a project manager to get information so that we could send them a letter. They’re operating a well that does not have a permit on it. We’d like them to first register the well and obtain a permit.”

He added, “If it was a residential well, even though ownership has changed, if it’s now for commercial use, they need a new permit for that.”

Pumpco later reapplied for a well permit, but that permit was denied.

Pumpco representative Adam Niesche tells KRTS that the groundwater district did approve a second permit application to use the water well in question at a hearing on October 8.

Beard also issued a written public apology to Brewster County Sheriff's Deputy Mauricio Cordova and Deputy McIntyre.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.