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Attorneys proceed with investigation of Ferris ‘top cops’

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The Ellis County Press

FERRIS - The investigation of Police Chief Jeff Cottongame's Ferris Police Reserve account was officially turned over to an outside legal firm Monday.

Cottongame and Lieutenant Sherman Swafford are on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

'I am hoping to get done by the end of next week,' said Robert Hager from the Dallas legal firm of Nichols, Jackson, Dillard, Hager & Smith, L.L.P.

Hager's firm was retained last week by the Ferris City Council to investigate and report back to the council about the police department's use of a police reserve bank account.

Cottongame and Swafford admitted sending invoices from the 'Ferris Police Reserves' to the Ferris Independent School District for security services at athletic games. They said they then cashed the checks and distributed the money to off-duty officers who worked the games.

The Texas Private Security Act requires officers to be paid individually.

Hager said he has gathered some initial information and will be looking at the handling of the funds deposited and cashed on the account.

His primary focus will be on the Ferris Police Reserve account and the security business that seems to have been run out of the account, according to Hager.

'If I do find other things, I will refer them to the council

and they can instruct me on what (they want) to do,' He said.

Ferris Mayor Jimmie Birdwell said he was glad to turn it over to someone else.

'They can be totally unbiased,' said Birdwell.

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