A judge sentenced former Indian Lake police Chief John Chambers to two years in state prison on Thursday morning, but suspended the sentence — placing Chambers on probation for five years.
If Chambers doesn’t violate the terms of probation, he will not serve any jail time. He must pay a $2,800 fine and complete 350 hours of community service.
Chambers — who’s running for sheriff in the Republican Party primary — was convicted on 14 counts of tampering with a government record on Jan. 8. Tampering with a government record is a state jail felony.
“This is a fabrication by Luis Saenz, my opponent in the Republican primary, who is Luis Saenz’s investigator; and one of my officers who I was terminating because I walked in and caught him having sexual relations with someone other than his wife in the police department,” Chambers said.
Saenz couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.
Investigators with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office arrested Chambers in February 2015. Investigators believe Chambers falsified firearm qualification records for Indian Lake law enforcement officers.
Chambers said he’ll appeal the verdict and keep campaigning for sheriff.
“The more they try to back me into a corner and make me leave the county, like they have done to every other official that’s spoken out, the more I am going to stand firm,” Chambers said.
Local attorney John T. Blaylock, though, said the conviction — if upheld — would derail Chambers’ political ambitions.
“He would be disqualified from holding office, should that conviction remain,” Blaylock said.
Chambers said he already filed a notice of appeal.
“I look forward to the appeal process. No matter what happens, ’til my dying day, I will assert that I am innocent,” Chambers said.