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Sheriff wants to probe whether extortion was a factor in judge’s suicide

Posted Jul 22, 2013 7:18 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Texas sheriff says a Corpus Christi judge who apparently committed suicide last week could have been the victim of extortion or blackmail.

Sheriff Jim Kaelin says Judge Tom Greenwell was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt when he killed himself at the Nueces County Courthouse, report Kiii TV, the Associated Press and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (sub. req.). The sheriff is awaiting court approval to investigate further to rule out the possibility of extortion or blackmail.

Kaelin said Greenwell didn’t live lavishly on his $140,000 salary and his purchases didn’t account for the large debts, according to the AP account of the Caller-Times story. Financial records showed Greenwell was making large withdrawals, suggesting that large payoffs were possibly being made.

"Something extremely difficult must have been going on in the judge's personal life,” Kaelin said. “So difficult that he felt suicide was his only option." Kaelin has identified two persons of interest in the suicide, according to KRIS TV and KZTV 10.

Friends and associates told local publications after Greenwell’s death that he was a caring, fair and dedicated judge who arrived early for work and stayed late.

Updated at 9:50 am. to say that Kaelin has identified two persons of interest in the suicide.

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