The Strange Case of Deputy Jesus “Eddie” Campa
The peculiar story of a Texas senior law enforcement official remains shrouded in mystery and intrigue after claims by federal, state and municipal law enforcement sources that the top cop was criminally indicted for embezzling millions of dollars in Homeland Security funds.
The bizarre tale involves Jesus “Eddie” Campa, the former chief deputy of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPCSO), a Texas agency responsible for patrolling more than 1,000 square miles with a population of about 700,000. Campa served in the department as a jailer and officer for two decades, according to public records. He left the agency earlier this year following the indictment allegations, supposedly for embezzling $5.6 million in Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) funds, sources tell JW. After an unusually short stint as police chief for the Ector County Independent School District in Odessa, Campa was recently sworn in as police chief in Marshall, a town of about 24,000 residents in northeast Texas.
But in February, as chief deputy at EPCSO, JW’s law enforcement sources say Campa was arrested by the FBI and taken to a holding cell at the El Paso FBI office located at 660 Mesa Hills Drive along with another deputy, Randolph Tabbutt, who has also left EPCSO. Tabbutt and Campa once owned a business called Rst/Jac Enterprises Inc. Both men were listed as directors of the business, according to records obtained by JW from the Texas Secretary of State. In 2003 Tabbutt filed for bankruptcy and the case wasn’t closed until 2009, according to federal court records. Details of the case have been sealed from the public, probably because Tabbutt is a law enforcement officer.
There appears to be no public record of Campa’s indictment and a spokesman, Daryl Fields, at the United States Attorney’s office for the Western District of Texas told JW that he “can neither confirm nor deny” that Campa was indicted. This response from federal prosecutors seems rather odd, as if there’s a concerted effort to cover up information related to the case. Multiple messages to the spokesman (special agent Michael Martinez) at the FBI El Paso office where JW’s sources say Campa and Tabbutt were detained, went unanswered.
Here’s what we do have documentation of; around the time JW’s law enforcement sources say Campa got indicted, he appears to have been stripped of his authority at EPCSO, an internal document shows. EPCSO Executive Chief Deputy Sylvia Aguilar sent an electronic mail to all deputies saying that Campa was gone and all administrative and operational matters were to be rerouted to her. Dated February 25, 2014, the inner-agency email was titled “Absence of Command” and said that Chief Deputy Campa was on leave. “Until further notice all communications on matters involving or requiring Executive level decision making” are to be sent to Aguilar, the email said.
A few months later Campa surfaced as the police chief for the Ector County Independent School District in Odessa. Glowing press reports described Campa as a “retired” EPCSO chief deputy who planned to establish an anti-bullying coalition similar to one created in El Paso years earlier. The superintendent of Ector County schools praised Campa as someone who could relate to the staff, students and the community. A separate news story quoted Campa saying that the Ector County job was a “perfect fit” because his aspirations were to become a chief of police and he was living just a couple of hours from his home city.
But a few weeks later Campa quietly left the Ector County school job to become police chief in Marshall, a small town hundreds of miles away. JW has spoken to Marshall Mayor Ed Smith, who acknowledges that Campa’s work history is “unusual” but feels confident his new chief has committed no wrongdoing. Interestingly, Campa’s brief stint at the Ector County school district was never reported to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) and has been omitted from his extensive state file, which lists his current job as Marshall Police Chief. Campa told JW this week that none of the allegations are true and he doesn’t know where they came from. “It’s all kind of crazy,” he said.