Tarrant DA re-examines dismissal of Colleyville mom’s vandalism charge

08/12/2014 5:04 PM

08/12/2014 5:06 PM

The Tarrant County district attorney’s office is re-examining the dismissal of a case against a Colleyville mother accused of helping middle school students vandalize her neighbor’s property in the summer of 2012.

Less than a week ago, prosecutors dismissed the criminal mischief charge against Tara Mauney, 43. She paid $1,900 restitution and apologized in a letter to the victim.

“The case is still dismissed,” DA’s office spokeswoman Melody McDonald said Tuesday in an email. “We cannot speculate on what might happen in the future, but we are looking into the matter.”

Mauney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The latest episode in the case developed because she posted a letter of apology on her Facebook page a few hours after the case was dismissed Aug. 7. Under the dismissal agreement, the apology letter was not supposed to be made public. But it turned out that this letter — though it was stamped by the Tarrant County district clerk’s office — was not the official apology.

Instead, it blames some of the vandalism on a girl who visited the neighbor’s home that night.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Thielman filed an affidavit Monday saying that the real letter should be published “to prevent fraud upon the court and the citizens of Tarrant County.”

The Facebook letter says, in part, “Know that we exercised in this House the same discipline and rules on this evening as we have over the last half-dozen years with dozens of the children — including your own — on as many events. I am sorry that in spite of every action taken, we were not able to interdict this fragile child’s acts.”

Mauney said she and two other adults “ruled” the children that night on never causing damage to private property and sent them to bed for the remainder of the evening.

“It is my understanding that the [girl’s] family will not be reimbursing you for damages. Let us pay that for you with the check enclosed,” Mauney wrote. “We trust, hope, and fully expect that these children will grow stronger, not weaker from their decisions and that our future as neighbors and friends will once again hold pleasant memories.”

The official apology says:

August 5th, 2014

Dr. Kathie Jodie Rishel

Only July 25th, 2012, I took 8 middle schoolers to Walmart to buy toilet paper in order to wrap houses in the neighborhood. They were excited to toilet paper houses in the neighborhood. Other children came down to “ding dong ditch” at my house. The children at my house responded. I did not stop them from doing these things. From this, the damage escalated and your home was damaged by markers and food. The markers and food came from my house. I did some things and failed to do some things that night that I regret. Please accept this, my apology for the damages caused to your house.

Restitution has been paid in full to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.

The letter is signed Tara C. Mauney.

The incident in question took place July 24-25, 2012. Colleyville police said Mauney led eight middle school students through a series of juvenile pranks at homes in the 4600 block of Alexandra Drive. The pranks included writing graffiti on outside walls and placing raw chicken in a mailbox. Damage to one home was estimated at almost $6,000, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram.

Mauney was arrested a few days later and charged with criminal mischief. No juveniles were charged.

The charge was dismissed Aug. 7 at the neighbor’s request.

Two days before that, according to the affidavit, a well-dressed man went to the clerk’s office and had the “purported” apology letter stamped. As many as five apology letters have been given to the neighbors since the incident took place, according to Mauney’s Facebook page on Tuesday.

Mauney also posted a “statement” on her Facebook page regarding the charge’s dismissal, thanking the “hundreds of parents” who supported “justice in this case.”

“Giants do fall: You have demonstrated that simple truth supersedes even the most adroit deceit,” the statement reads.

She also wrote that the apology and restitution offered Aug. 7 were “identical to those offered by us — at the front door of the victim within hours and on two subsequent occasions — but refused.”

“They do not express a mantle of blame or shame,” she wrote. “To the contrary: We stepped in and made the Victim’s damages whole when the child-perpetrator’s family refused.”

She urged other adults who welcome minor children into their homes to use her experience as a warning.

“The secret agenda and shrewd, exploitative capabilities of certain littered personalities can draw you also into the center of an unrestrained malevolent storm beyond your imagining or control,” she wrote.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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