PAYNE SPRINGS, Texas — Arrest documents allege an East Texas police chief and one of her officers used a confidential informant, who was assigned to help police with narcotics investigations, to sell and purchase methamphetamines.
Payne Springs Chief of Police April Meadows and Officer Jonathan Hutchison, 40, of Mabank, were arrested on manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance and money laundering charges Thursday morning.
Meadows was transferred to the Smith County Jail, while Hutchison is now in the Van Zandt County Jail. Both of their bonds total $3 million, according to jail records.
According to arrest affidavits, Henderson County investigators received information Feb. 14 this year from a "credible and confidential informant" claiming that Meadows and Hutchison were directing them to buy narcotics, but the informant believed they were "conducting something other than a legitimate narcotics investigation."
After interviewing the informant, the document states a multi-agency investigation started with help from the Henderson County Sheriff's Office, Texas Rangers and the Henderson County District Attorney's Office.
Before working with Meadows and Hutchison, this informant had previously assisted law enforcement in several successful narcotics investigations.
In May or June 2022, the informant said that Hutchison and Meadows asked if the informant could purchase meth, and they agreed to help the officers.
The informant told investigators Meadows became much more involved in the contact to set up the purchase. This included receiving the product and paying the informant for buying the narcotics, the affidavit read.
Around that same time, Meadows and Hutchison told the informant they now wanted the purchases to be made through CashApp, a method they described as "much more secure," the document explained.
This informant Meadows and Hutchison are accused of using was told to make about 20 to 30 narcotics purchases under the officers' direction. Sometimes, Meadows or Hutchison told the informant to take narcotics that he or she purchased from a mailbox and move the drugs to a specified mailbox, according to the affidavit.
Other times, the informant said that he or she would hand the narcotics to Meadows at the Payne Springs Police Department. Then, Meadows would drop the drugs in a bag marked as "evidence," the affidavit stated.
The informant told investigators Meadows or Hutchison would pay the informant through CashApp, physical cash and sometimes marijuana. The informant said he thought payment through marijuana was strange, but Hutchison and Meadows explained marijuana was legal now, the document read.
In a text message, Hutchison told the informant two of the deliveries were "too weak or trash." Hutchison told the informant to sell the drugs to get better quality narcotics, the affidavit said.
After this happened, the informant questioned if what Hutchison and Meadows were doing was legitimate or not, according to the document.
On Feb. 15 this year, the informant was used by the Henderson County narcotics investigators to conduct a controlled purchase of meth. During this exchange, Meadows or Hutchison told the informant to deliver the meth to the Payne Springs Police Department mailbox and a $20 bill was left in the mailbox as payment, the document read.
Between Feb. 15 and 24, similar exchanges happened between Meadows and Hutchison and the informant. On Feb. 23, Meadows and Hutchison made the informant sign an unknown document for the meth, which the informant said Hutchison placed into an evidence bag, the affidavit said.
Also, the affidavit stated Meadows and Hutchison told the informant to sell the meth, but instead the informant brought the drugs to the HCSO narcotics investigators.
During the investigation, the informant saw Meadows pull out a black bag that had weighing scales inside from a vehicle at the police impound lot during one of the exchanges, the document said.
Bank records show Hutchison paid the informant over $3,000 through CashApp for narcotics purchases, while Meadows paid the informant $1,800 via CashApp, the affidavit read.
HSCO has text messages, videos and other records showing the alleged exchanges of meth for money, according to the documents.