A Tarrant County grand jury is investigating the Tarrant Regional Water District and a settlement paid to former director Jim Oliver, according to a letter from the district attorney.
The letter from District Attorney Sharen Wilson to water district board members instructs them to preserve records related to “closed meetings” and other documents regarding “potential criminal conduct.”
The letter, obtained by NBC 5 and first disclosed by the non-profit news website the Fort Worth Report, specifically references the “proposed settlement and payment” on Sept. 29 – the day board members approved a $257,000 settlement with Oliver who was retiring.
Anna Tinsley Williams, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, declined to comment on the investigation.
Jason Smith, an attorney who represented Oliver in the settlement, said he believes the inquiry is focused on possible open meetings law violations by the board.
The water district itself released a short statement saying it is aware of the investigation.
“TRWD’s board acted in accordance and based on the advice of legal counsel,” the statement said. “We are in consultation with legal counsel regarding next steps.”
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Mary Kelleher, the lone board member who voted against the settlement, said she is not aware what the investigation involves but welcomes it.
“I’m pleased that the Tarrant County district attorney’s office is taking a closer look at the water district,” she said.