By Lynda Jones
Two former employees of the Houston County Courier, Cynthia Jeannine Rhone and her husband, Jerry Wayne Rhone, formerly of Grapeland, were indicted by a Houston County Grand Jury on Friday, July 8, for alleged theft of more than $200,000 (each) from Alvin Holley, owner of Polk County Publishing Company (PCPC). The Houston County Courier is a part of PCPC. The alleged crimes are first degree felonies.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty by due process of law.
The indictments allege the theft by each occurred from on or about Sept. 30, 2009, through March 31, 2014.
Cynthia Jeannine Rhone was general manager of the Houston County Courier from November 2001 to March 10, 2014. She held other positions at the newspaper prior to 2001.
Jerry Wayne Rhone was employed in the Courier's production department from February 2002 – December 2010.
During their times of employment at the Courier, the Rhones were residents of Grapeland.
The indictment of Cynthia Jeannine Rhone alleges that she did:
"Unlawfully appropriate, by acquiring or otherwise exercising control over, property, to-wit: U.S. currency, of the value of more than $200,000, from Alvin Holley, the owner thereof, without the effective consent of the owner, and with intent to deprive the owner of the property.
"And it is further presented in and to said Court (349th Judicial District Court of Houston County, Texas) that all of the said property was obtained pursuant to one scheme or continuing course of conduct, and the aggregate value of the property obtained was more than $200,000."
The indictment of Jerry Wayne Rhone is identical.
The Rhones previously were indicted on first degree felony theft charges on Sept. 30, 2014; however, those cases were not tried due to a technical issue.
For the past year, the Regional Organized Crime Information Center (ROCIC) has assisted the Houston County District Attorney's Office with the preparation of the current cases.
Houston County District Attorney Donna Kaspar cannot comment on details of the cases at this time due to the open investigations.
Holley and his management team also are not commenting while the investigation is open.
Editor's Note: These are not the Rhones who own an unrelated business in downtown Crockett.