Granite Shoals Place 6 Councilor Phil Ort could face a state jail felony charge for allegedly keying a car in the Marble Falls H-E-B parking lot in October 2021. Ort was originally charged with a Class A misdemeanor, but the charge could increase to a state jail felony if damages are determined to be over $2,500. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey
A misdemeanor charge against Granite Shoals Place 6 Councilor Phil Ort was recently dismissed by the Burnet County Court at Law, but he could face a state jail felony charge for allegedly keying a car in the Marble Falls H-E-B parking lot in October 2021.
The case is under review by the district attorney’s office for the 33rd and 424th Judicial District because damages to the vehicle are estimated to exceed misdemeanor levels.
“Debbie Earley asked us to review the case, and we have it for review because of the amount of damages,” District Attorney Sonny McAfee said.
“Once I reviewed the evidence, it occurred to me that the case needed to be referred to the district attorney’s office,” Earley told DailyTrib.com.
She was brought on as a prosecutor shortly before Ort’s original hearing on Sept. 19 but asked for an extension to have more time to look over the evidence. By the time Ort’s second hearing came around on Nov. 14, she determined the damages involved could be over $2,500, which would push the charge from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony.
Ort was not aware of the potential felony charge until asked about it by DailyTrib.com. He said he believed his case was over after Monday’s dismissal by the Burnet County Court at Law.
The original charge of criminal mischief was handed down in December 2021. Ort turned himself in to the Burnet County Jail after learning he was wanted in the keying of a Mercedes-Benz in the H-E-B parking lot on Oct. 20, 2021. The investigation was conducted by Marble Falls Police Sgt. Aaron Garcia, who is now the sitting mayor of Granite Shoals, the same governing body on which Ort serves.
The Class A Misdemeanor charge carried a potential fine of up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail. The state jail felony charge carries a potential fine of up to $10,000 and between 180 days and two years in jail.
The potential increase in the charge is due to a Texas state law that classifies any damages between $2,500 and $30,000 as a state jail felony.