MADISONVILLE, TX — A police sergeant enacted a plan to frame an an innocent citizen with felony drug charges. When caught and found guilty, his malicious scheme to ruin someone’s life only earned him a paltry sentence of 30 days in jail — just a fraction of what he intended to inflict on his victim.
The incident took place in November 2011, when Madisonville Police Sergeant Jeff Covington and his ex-wife Laura were going through a custody battle. Sgt. Covington devised a plan to wipe Laura out of the picture, send her to prison, ruin her life and reputation, and allow him to seize control of their children.
Covington followed through with his devious plan. He planted methamphetamines in Laura’s vehicle, and then tipped off a Texas DPS trooper that the vehicle was “riding dirty” (carrying narcotics). The trooper followed up on Covington’s tip, stopped Laura, and found the meth. Laura Covington, who was 7-months pregnant at the time, was placed under arrest. She was booked at the Madison County Jail on felony charges for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Sgt. Covington’s plan had worked. Laura was arrested and faced charges that would destroy her credibility for the rest of her life. She lost custody of the two children, just as Covington had hoped.
The plan started to unravel when prosecutors detected that something was amiss. Laura passed several drug tests and it became clear that her ex-husband had instigated the stop. Even during the traffic stop, Laura was on video suggesting that this was a scheme hatched by her ex. Assistant Attorney General David Glickler dismissed the charges in January 2012. ABC News reported Laura’s reaction:
“Being arrested when I was seven months pregnant, going to jail, and then having my two young children taken from me was a nightmare that still causes me pain to this day,” she told ABC News. “It’s like a bad dream, but the sad thing is that it’s not a dream because it actually happened.”
“Having my babies taken from me was the worst part about this entire ordeal and if Jeff would have succeeded in his scheme, I could have lost them forever. My family and I will move on, but I will always be looking over my shoulder,” Laura Covington said.
Jeff Covington was charged, rightly so, with multiple crimes stemming from the scheme. After going to trial and facing a jury, he was convicted of retaliation. Covington waived his right to an appeal in exchange for the state dismissing two other charges – delivery of a controlled substance and official oppression.
Justice appeared to have been served until the disappointing sentence was issued. Covington was sentenced to only 30 days in jail, and probation time. The sentence shocked many who read it.
Laura, who says she “lived in fear for a long time” will only be able enjoy one month of peace without her malicious, criminal ex-husband on the streets.
Under Texas’ draconian drug laws, Laura faced faced a real potential for multiple years in prison, as a part of her ex-husband’s scheme. Jeff’s actions were far more morally repulsive and dangerous to society than a person possessing a substance , but he got off with a fraction of the punishment he aimed to inflict.
For further evidence of the insanity of the Texas legal system, contrast this story with the 19-year-old Texas teen who faces a potential 5-years-to-life sentence in prison if convicted of baking brownies with marijuana in them. It is not uncommon in Texas for people to face decades-long prison sentences for nothing other than drugs.
Yet officers who are caught and convicted of abusing their power are frequently let off with little to no punishment. In another Texas story covered by Police State USA, a Texas trooper was sentenced to zero days in jail after being found guilty of “officially oppressing” two innocent women with disturbing roadside body-cavity searches.
It is unnerving that Texas deems it appropriate to deliver draconian prison sentences to people who have never committed violence nor victimized anyone, while simultaneously giving slaps on the wrists to brutal and oppressive government agents proven to be abusing citizens with their official powers.