A southern Missouri sheriff and a deputy he was dating are facing a slew of charges centered around multiple instances of misconduct within the sheriff’s office, including allegations of threats, assaults and bringing a child to jail around “sexually violent offenders and other dangerous” inmates.
The sheriff and the deputy are identified in court records as Texas County Sheriff James Sigman and Chief Deputy Jennifer Tomaszewski.
Sigman, 48, and Tomaszewski, 38, were each formally charged with first-degree assault,two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful use of a weapon, first-degree harassment, misuse of official information by a public servant and false impersonation, according to online court records.
There is also a charge of first-degree robbery listed, but no details are provided.
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Special prosecutors have been assigned to both cases.
Neither have attorneys listed on their behalf.
Aside from being co-workers, Sigman and Tomaszewski were also romantic partners, court records said.
The relationship began around the time she was first hired to work at the Texas County jail in 2016.
The investigation into the two law enforcement officers was led by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. It focuses on late 2016 when Tomaszewski was hired as a corrections officer up until last May when she graduated from the academy and received a peace officer license.
Court records list the following allegations based on an investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol:
For more than a year, the sheriff allegedly allowed Tomaszewski to conduct law enforcement duties when she wasn’t a commissioned officer, which included detaining suspects, going on ride-alongs and searches with other deputies, and acting as an “undercover officer.” She also wore a deputy uniform and carried guns owned by the sheriff’s office, court records said.
In one instance where she accompanied authorities serving a search warrant, court records said she pointed a gun at five individuals, including a 1-year-old, who were across the street from where officers were working because she “thought they were video recording the officers and taking pictures,” court records said. That incident happened in June 2017, court records said.
No one was reported injured, but the individuals told authorities they feared for their lives.
The court records also go on to describe times where Tomaszewski allegedly threatened an inmate’s life, elbowed an inmate in the face while he was unconscious and placed another on “permanent lockdown ... for no reason other than punishment for (the inmate).”
The last set of allegations center around Tomaszewski bringing a child to the jail. Court records said she and Sigman took the child there “resulting in the jail facility essentially being used as a child care facility by them.”
Sheriff’s office employees told the highway patrol they were concerned for the child because she was in danger.
Surveillance video also showed the child in the kitchen at the jail, where she allegedly “helped serve meals to the inmates and ate with two inmates in the jail kitchen” last November — one of which was described as a “sexually violent offender” from another county.
In nearly all of these incidents, authorities said Sigman was present and “did nothing to intervene,” court records said.
According to the Houston Herald, Sigman was first elected sheriff in 2012. In the past year, the newspaper reported “more than 40 employees” have either left the sheriff’s office or have been fired.
Court records also noted “all of the dispatchers” resigned when they refused to answer Tomaszewski’s law enforcement inquires using the sheriff’s badge number.
Sigman remained in the Greene County jail while Tomaszewski was taken to the Shannon County jail on Wednesday night. Their bail amounts are set at $500,000 each.