03/30/2006

Sheriff orders probe after sixth mistaken release from jail

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas

A sheriff has ordered a criminal investigation of her own department after six inmates were released by mistake this year.

The Nueces County sheriff's office had instituted safeguards earlier this month after five inmates were mistakenly released from the county jail, but another erroneous release was discovered Tuesday.

"Preliminary information indicates that there may be highly suspicious circumstances surrounding this latest incident," Sheriff Rebecca Stutts said Tuesday in a statement.

Chief Deputy Jimmy Rodriguez said the office would not release the name of the sixth wrongly released inmate, who was let out Friday, the charges against him or the circumstances of the release.

"I think an outside audit would show whether sabotage was involved, hopefully," county Commissioner Chuck Cazalas said of the sheriff's order for an investigation by an outside law enforcement agency. "In fact, I am going to ask that she check ... 2005 and 2004 and see if we have had a problem then as well."

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