Gregg County, TX (Longview News-Journal) — Tom Welch, a former Gregg County sheriff who left office in 1979 for a prison cell, died Monday. He was 83.
Welch was found dead at his home in rural Gregg County by a person who worked for him, said Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano.
Circumstances of the death were unknown late Monday, but foul play was not suspected. Cerliano said the former sheriff, a rancher, had been in ill health.
Welch was elected sheriff in 1972 and re-elected in 1976. But he never finished his second term, resigning after being convicted on a multitude of charges that led investigators to dub him a “one-man crime wave.”
Welch and four others were convicted in December 1979 in federal court in Tyler on charges of official corruption and murder-conspiracy.
The corruption convictions centered on charges Welch and the others — County Commissioner Bill Satterwhite, Justice of the Peace Charles Cashell and former deputies Bill Roach and Jim Cochran — allowed and profited from illegal gambling in and around Longview.