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District attorney launches crusade against public corruption in Jefferson County

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JEFFERSON COUNTY -

Cory Crenshaw is a man on a mission.  It's been a month-and-a-half since Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed him to fill the remaining term of retiring Jefferson County District Attorney Tom Maness.

In his first interview with 12News in February, Crenshaw said fighting public corruption was a priority for him, and this week, he put his army together to fight that battle.

Crenshaw said , "We can simply not sit back and say, 'well we don't have the resources to do it, or we don't have the manpower to do it at this time', we've got to pull together and right this ship."

Crenshaw is a former federal prosecutor, and he's joined forces with his former boss, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, Malcolm Bales, to create a task force aimed at bringing corrupt public officials to justice.

Crenshaw told us, "The public is tired of words, it's tired of begging for help, it's ready for action, and on the law enforcement side, we are ready to move forward."

Crenshaw said it's an urgent matter that if left unattended could destroy Jefferson County.

He says, "There is definitely a need to be more aggressive in combating public corruption, because it is harming both the future for individuals, for this community, for our children, who are our future."

That concern for children and for taxpayers has drawn the task force's attention to the Beaumont Independent School District.

Crenshaw says, "We are definitely including the Beaumont Independent School District as a target of the task force."

Crenshaw warns no government entity nor public official is immune from the task force's scrutiny.

He says, "Public corruption anywhere in Jefferson County is a target, whether it's in the Jefferson County courthouse, or the Port Arthur city hall, or in the Beaumont city hall."

Crenshaw says the task force has hit the ground running, and he expects criminal indictments to come in the next four to six months.

But at this point what cases they're specifically working on are not being revealed.

Another interesting note about this task force is that retired Orange police chief Sam Kittrell will be part of the group as an investigator.

Kittrell has a 37-year-career in law enforcement.

The task force will also focus on fighting gang violence, which Crenshaw says is a problem in Jefferson County.

He told us, "There are unfortunately many victims of gang-related crime that can tell you without a doubt, they exist in Jefferson County, and they have to be addressed."

U.S. Attorney Bales encourages the public to report any suspicions of corruption or violence, by calling his office at (409) 839-2538.

Crenshaw says the goal is to prevent crime in the future, and bring to justice those who have committed crimes in the past.

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