James Sigman — facing a criminal prosecution on numerous felony charges for alleged misconduct while Texas County sheriff — resigned last week following a hearing that was set to determine whether he should be formally tossed from office.
Sigman stepped away from the office where he was arrested in July 2018 in the sheriff’s office following a grand jury indictment and was whisked away in a state patrol car to Greene County, where he posted bond at the county jail. Sigman, whose case drew national coverage, demands to be paid for the time he’s been away from the Texas County Justice Center in a two-sentence letter to the Texas County Commission. “I hereby tender my resignation as the duly, elected Sheriff of Texas County Missouri on this 29th day of January, 2020. I hereby demand my outstanding salary from July 2018 until January 29, 2020,” he wrote.
During a three-hour hearing before Circuit Judge John Beger, Sigman’s attorney and Special Prosecutor Don Trotter of Lawrence County, argued several defense motions. The judge denied all seven, and Sigman’s legal counsel, Jason Coatney of Springfield, announced Sigman would resign, triggering the cancellation of the testimony that would have involved about 15 people who had received a subpoena. Another 10 were on standby. The move comes in advance of a criminal trial for Sigman and a former employee, Jennifer Tomaszewski, who was the administrator of the county jail before being fired by the county upon the indictment.
Both are set to stand trial in Pulaski County on a change of venue from Texas County. They are free on $500,000 bond each. A trial date will be set on April 22. Those involved in the matter say that the discovery portion of the case now involves about 4,000 pages of evidence and between one to two weeks of recordings.
The closure of the legal maneuver to formally oust him — known as quo warranto — has been used in rare occasions to remove public officials who conduct illegal acts. In Missouri, the most recent case was in the Bootheel, where a sheriff was accused of wrong-doing.
Upon his arrest in July 2018, Sigman was removed under the quo warranto procedure and the county coroner assumed duties the following morning. The Texas County Commission named a former sheriff’s department detective, Rowdy Douglas, to run the department as interim sheriff. In November 2018, county voters elected Scott Lindsey to replace Sigman.
Following the indictment, Sigman became the first Texas County officeholder in 45 years to be charged with a crime when he and Tomaszewski were arrested while on duty inside the Texas County Justice Center. A report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Sigman allowed the woman whom he hired to run the jail and engaged in a romantic relationship – Tomaszewski – to impersonate an officer on multiple occasions, threaten bodily harm to others and physically abuse inmates.
While Tomaszewski carried out the wrongdoings alleged in the charges, authorities said Sigman was present for the incidents and allowed them. They both were charged with similar crimes: first-degree felony assault, first-degree robbery, felony first-degree endangering the welfare of a child, felony unlawful use of a weapon, felony harassment, felony endangering the welfare of a child, second degree; misdemeanor misuse of official information by a public servant and misdemeanor false impersonation. Sigman was charged again in October on a felony forgery charge. Tomaszewski was charged with two counts of forgery in December.
Before the charges, about 50 sheriff’s department employees left the employment of the county — after either being fired or quitting. Texas County’s insurance company conducted an investigation amid the rumblings in the sheriff’s department. Nearly all of the department’s deputies left, but rejoined the department after Sigman was charged and arrested. One federal lawsuit alleging mistreatment in the county jail while Sigman was sheriff was settled late last year for $30,000 to a former inmate and another $76,128 in legal fees. A second federal lawsuit is pending.