Missouri sheriff promoted his lover to run the county jail; Now bothface criminal charges

Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com -- Lifelong Houston, Mo., resident Marion Hensen reads about ousted Texas County Sheriff James Sigman's arrest while getting her hair done on Thursday, July 26, 2018, at Delma's Hair Design. "I am very surprised," Henson said. "I never met the man or her but this is poor, poor, poor. I don't think he should be sheriff here or anywhere ever again."

By Jesse Bogan

Published with permission from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch – July 28, 2018

The reaction to Danny Ross’ bout with cancer perhaps speaks to what is best about communities such as this one in rural Texas County. After news spread that he was sick, and he’d need to make the long slog to St. Louis for treatment, friends stepped up to help.

They mowed his grass, checked on his cattle and dropped off enough firewood to get his family through two winters.

“That is just how people are around here,” said Ross, 66, of tiny Eunice.

That sense of trust and belonging is being challenged. Not from a faraway place that many residents come here to avoid, or run away from, but by a neighbor — James Sigman, who was recently ousted from being the sheriff of Texas County.

Elected to office in 2012, Sigman, 48, faces a host of crimes, including robbery, assault, endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful use of a weapon, misuse of official information by a public servant and harassment. He’s essentially accused of not doing anything to stop his girlfriend, Jennifer Tomaszewski, 38, from misrepresenting herself as a peace officer, putting area residents at risk and abusing inmates.

Sigman hired her as a jailer in December 2016, about the time they began a romance together, according to court records. She was promoted to administrator of the 72-bed jail seven months later, which drew scorn from employees and inmates under her care.

Tomaszewski allegedly threatened to shoot an inmate in the head, which led to a grievance report that wasn’t held on file. During an altercation with a mentally disabled inmate, she allegedly struck him in the face with her elbows after he was rendered unconscious and later told a corrections officer that she’d been trying to “bust his eardrum out.”

Outside of the jail, and not yet a licensed police officer, investigators say she wore a uniform, helped detain suspects, was used as “bait” for undercover stings, and pointed guns at multiple people — including at a one-year-old child — observing a nearby crime scene. Sigman didn’t correct the behavior, officials said.

Sigman’s wife, who did child advocacy work down the hall at the Texas County Justice Center, filed for a divorce. Dozens of sheriff’s department employees quit or were fired.

Complaints of bad police work and favoritism were shared around Houston, the county seat. The County Commission said the sheriff denied rumors, yet launched its own investigation to assess exposure to a civil lawsuit.

Complaints made in open court by jail inmates eventually motivated the county prosecutor to ask the Missouri Highway Patrol to investigate. Its findings were made public July 18, with the arrest of Sigman and Tomaszewski, who’d risen to chief deputy.
TO READ THE FULL STORY, GO TO https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/missouri-sheriff-promoted-his-lover-to-run-the-county-jail/article_557729c3-bf76-5582-8869-505a529587f6.html



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