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Missouri Sheriff Hires Girlfriend to Run Jail; Both are Arrested

by Scott Grammer

James Sigman, 48, was elected sheriff of Texas County, Missouri in 2012. He now stands charged with robbery, assault, endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful use of a weapon, misuse of official information by a public servant and harassment. The charges stem from his alleged failure to stop his girlfriend, Jennifer Tomaszewski, 38, from misrepresenting herself as a peace officer, abusing prisoners at the county jail and putting residents at risk. 

In December 2016, about the time that the married Sigman began a romance with the also-married Tomaszewski, he hired her as a jailer. Seven months later he made her administrator of the jail. While serving in that position, she allegedly threatened to shoot a prisoner in the head. A grievance was submitted, but wasn’t kept on file. She also allegedly struck a mentally ill prisoner in the face with her elbows after he was already unconscious, and told a guard that she had been “trying to bust his eardrum out.”

Investigators said Tomaszewski wore a uniform, detained suspects and pointed guns at a number of people, including a one-year-old child, even though she wasn’t a peace officer. Sheriff Sigman, her boss, did not correct this misconduct. Sigman’s wife eventually filed for divorce, while sheriff’s office employees either quit or were fired by the dozen.

Complaints by prisoners finally convinced the county prosecutor to ask the Missouri Highway Patrol to investigate. On July 18, 2018, the findings of the investigation were released and both Sigman and Tomaszewski were arrested. 

Rowdy Douglas, who had quit the sheriff’s office in early 2018, was appointed interim sheriff. A special election was held last November, with Scott Lindsey being elected sheriff. The charges against Sigman and Tomaszewski remain pending; Sigman also faces a felony forgery charge, while Tomaszewski faces two additional counts of forgery. 

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Sources: stltoday.com, houstonherald.com