Southeast Texas officials say they were never notified by the state of plans to relocate to their county two-dozen sex offenders classified as among the state's most dangerous.
Records obtained by the Houston Chronicle reveal a detailed proposal to build a secure $500,000 facility in rural Liberty County, northeast of Houston.
State law does not require the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management to notify a community of its plans, only that public notices be distributed after registered sex offenders move into an area.
Liberty County Judge Craig McNair said he and other county officials were not made aware of the contract or plans to build the facility until he started getting calls from angry lawmakers on Wednesday.
"You would think they would come before the Commissioners Court, wouldn't you?" McNair said. "I think it was somebody trying to slip something in on us."
The office was the target of an outcry last month when it quietly moved 28 sex offenders into a north Houston neighborhood.
The offenders are among more than 300 men held indefinitely by the state under civil commitment ever after they've completed their prison sentences.
The construction of the $500,000 facility is not moving forward immediately. State Sen. Robert Nichols, a Jacksonville Republican whose district includes the proposed Liberty County site, said he was informed by Allison Taylor, the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management's executive director, that the facility will not be built because the successful bidder does not own the site and cannot buy it.
"They are looking for another site to build it on," he added.
The contract was awarded to former Houston Police Department officer Jeffrey Larson, who was charged in 2008 with theft of between $100,000 and $200,000 from the Houston Police Officers Union, where he was the treasurer. He pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor charge of misapplication of fiduciary property and received deferred adjudication in 2011.
Neither Larson nor the state responded calls from the Chronicle.
Other officials contacted by the Chronicle said that since the proposal was accepted on the Liberty County location, moving it to another place would be a "material change" and would likely mean a whole new bidding process.