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Tax official resigns after drug arrest
5 Tax Appraiser mug

Dawson County's chief tax appraiser has resigned following his arrest last week on misdemeanor drug charges.

Michael Joseph Roberts, 36, who had held the position for two years, was arrested May 7 at his office. He was charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and possession of a drug-related object.

According to County Manager Cindy Campbell, Roberts submitted his resignation to the board of tax assessors the next day. The five-member panel makes decisions concerning the operation and management of the office.

"The board of assessors will be meeting to discuss the situation and determine a plan of action to ensure the operations of the Dawson County property evaluation office continue without interruption," Campbell wrote in an e-mail.

The board is hold a special called meeting this morning.

According to Dawson County Sheriff's Maj. Tony Wooten, Roberts' arrest stemmed from a tip that an odor of marijuana was coming from his vehicle in the government center parking lot.

"Lt. Col. John Cagle, with an officer and a canine unit, went out to the car to investigate the complaint and identified whose car it was," Wooten said. "The canine alerted that there was an illegal substance in the car."

The officers then searched the vehicle and discovered the suspected marijuana, Wooten said.

Roberts was taken into custody at his office on the first floor of the government center.

He was released on $2,200 bond that night, according to jail records.

Hired as a field technician nearly 11 years ago, Roberts was promoted to deputy appraiser in 2006 and assumed the role of chief appraiser on April 18, 2011.

District 1 County Commissioner Gary Pichon called the arrest "unfortunate."

"People in public life, people who work for the citizens, should be held to a higher standard," he said.

Pichon added that he is concerned about public perception in the wake of the incident.

"Even an allegation like this is disturbing," he said. "It's in the hands of the proper officials, and I'm confident the tax assessor board will do what's appropriate.

"There's absolutely no evidence the tax digest has been compromised or tainted by Mr. Roberts' extracurricular activities."