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Texas sheriff who won $85 million lottery jackpot arrested for tampering with video evidence

Oct 15, 2020, 9:05 am

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After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: Texas sheriff who won $85 million lottery jackpot arrested for tampering with video evidenceRating:

Questions raised over timing of allegations so close to an election

By Kate Northrop

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tx. — A lottery winner famous for his role as Sheriff on the now-canceled A&E television show "Live PD" was indicted and arrested for allegedly tampering with video footage that captured crucial moments of the death of a suspect in police custody.

Before Robert Chody paved his way to success as Sheriff of Williamson County and star of his very own law enforcement reality television show, he stood with his wife before cameras in 2001 as the Texas Lottery awarded them a check for $51 million, the lump-sum cash value of the $85 million Lotto Texas jackpot. It was the largest-ever check handed to a lottery player in the state at the time.

In March 2001, he bought $5 in Quick Pick tickets at a Shopper's Mart just three hours before the fateful Texas Lottery drawing. They were not expecting to win the swelling $85 million jackpot that evening.

Today, they live in a $1.4 million, 5,000-square foot house right next to a golf course in Williamson County. In an interview back in February 2018, he steered away from the topic of his wealth and emphasized that his main priority in life is family. On social media, he portrayed himself as a "dance dad" who loves going to his daughter's recitals and cheered his son on for completing Marine boot camp.

"If I lived in a trailer to this day, with my wife and children, I would be content with that," he stated in the interview.

At the time he struck it big, Chody was a police officer in Austin. He came from a humble upbringing having been raised by a single mother alongside three other siblings in a trailer park located in Orlando, Florida. His father committed suicide when he was eight years old.

At the age of 15, Chody ran into the street and called for help when his mother's boyfriend began attacking her and one of his siblings. An officer arrived at the scene and rescued him and his family from danger. Ever since that day, he dreamed of becoming a law enforcement hero, which is exactly what he became in the eyes of millions of viewers on his reality television series "Live PD."

"I've told the story 100 times, and some of it I am finding out is not completely accurate, but I will tell you what is accurate, and that is the sense of security I had," Chody said.

Unsurprisingly, the big win garnered Chody and his family a lot of attention, but he swore that the newfound wealth would not alter his family's life and values.

"We've been getting calls from people we normally don't receive calls from," he said nearly two decades ago. "So yeah, I think it is going to change a lot."

Life certainly took an upturn for Chody, who worked his way from weekend patrol in Austin into the Sheriff's office in Williamson County, the top law enforcement position in the county. "Live PD" took off with local viewers, and he quickly amassed a loyal social media following.

The television show, which showcases footage of his officers handling crime, became the focal point for an investigation regarding the death of 40-year-old Javier Ambler II, a former postal employee, while in police custody. Moments leading up to his death were captured on the show in 2019, and the show was swiftly cancelled.

In January 2018, Chody had previously pitched the show to county commissioners as a way of putting Williamson County in the limelight as a national model for law enforcement. Ironically, it backfired.

"How much more transparent can we get than being willing to be on live TV?" Chody argued in favor of the show.

In March 2019, police attempted to pull Ambler over for failing to dim his headlights for oncoming traffic. Ambler fled and crashed his car multiple times in a chase that lasted 22 minutes. At around 1:30 am, his car was disabled in a North Austin neighborhood, and afterwards Deputies tasered him four times. During the altercation, he told officers that he had a heart condition and that he could not breathe. Four minutes later, he died.

While some details about Ambler's final moments were captured on body camera footage from an Austin police officer, "Live PD" camera crews were with Deputies when they filmed the incident. According to prosecutors, that footage likely provided the clearest picture of the incident.

However, investigators were never able to get their hands on the video recordings — it was destroyed by producers.

There are mismatching stories about when and why the video evidence was discarded. Prosecutors said that they were trying to obtain the footage for months, but Williamson County sheriff's officials and those working on the "Live PD" show had stalled the investigation by refusing to release it.  Despite this, there was a contract in place at the time of Ambler's death between Williamson County and "Live PD" producers that allowed any unaired footage to be destroyed within 30 days unless it were otherwise required to remain intact by a court order or law.

On the other hand, Chody had said that investigators were originally slow to make any legal moves, only suddenly taking interest in the case around election time. According to him, the Travis County District Attorney had not taken any action for 19 months. He believes the motivation to prosecute him for tampering with video evidence is politically motivated since his name is currently in the ring for the upcoming re-election for County Sheriff.

"From the beginning, the Javier Ambler incident has been hampered by prosecutors failing to act and then attempting to pass off responsibility for their inactions," Chody stated. "In fact, it was only after the bodycam video of the Ambler incident was released to the public that the Travis County DA began to move on this case."

Chody was charged with felony evidence tampering and for allegedly aiding in the wrongful destruction of footage depicting the details of Ambler's death. He was indicted last month by a Williamson County grand jury following the testimonies of 19 witnesses, but he denies covering up any evidence or breaking any laws.

"I did not tamper with evidence," Chody stated. "We are now at one month from the election and the DA is just now acting in a case that is nearly two years old."

He was arrested and bailed out on Mon., Sept. 28, 2020 for $10,000 after he turned himself in to Williamson County Jail.

Chody's first official court date is set for Nov. 30, 2020. A Travis County grand jury will begin hearing evidence after Jan. 1, 2021.

"To say that this footage does or doesn't exist — we have no idea," Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick said. "Only the Sheriff's office and 'Live PD' truly know whether it exists."

As the case is still ongoing, prosecutors said they were unable to disclose their findings on Chody's involvement in the destruction of the footage.

Sheriffs cannot be fired, rather they are elected by county voters but can be removed from office if they are convicted. While his wealth, no doubt boosted by his lottery winnings, will fuel his campaign and pay for his legal defense, right now his fate ultimately rests in the hands of voters. It will be interested to see how they interpret this investigation as well as the timing of it.

Lottery Post Staff

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8 comments. Last comment 5 days ago by noise-gate.
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New York
United States
Member #103596
January 4, 2011
6498 Posts
Offline

I don't know anything other than what I've read in this article; certainly there is enough in it for readers to argue one position or another either in support of the prosecution or in support that he is being persecuted.  The adage that most likely applies, however, is when you mix politics with anything, you get politics. Truth, justice, and the American way certainly has gone off the rails in so many ways.

    Avatar
    New Member
    Bronx ny
    United States
    Member #209099
    August 20, 2020
    9 Posts
    Offline

    i ain't reading that whole book.. All i know is if he gets jail time he has plenty of money for commissary n protection...

      weshar75's avatar - Lottery-042.jpg
      Mcminnville, Oregon
      United States
      Member #3013
      December 13, 2003
      4810 Posts
      Offline

      The sheriff should retire and live off his winnings unless he already spent it.-weshar75

      US Flag

        HaveABall's avatar - rocket

        United States
        Member #72446
        March 18, 2009
        1311 Posts
        Offline

        Why can't these adult winners be satisfied with retiring.  There are skilled workers who require a work income to live who could have worked the jobs he has held.  Lottery winners of net $5+ million should be fine working the new part-time job investing their money, and creating an enjoyable part-time hobby.  Now he's going to experience grief and money loss at something he and the others involved probably didn't maliciously do.

        Having several millions of dollars in my financial accounts means receiving several valuable services each day!

        Disney

          Avatar
          New Member
          Grifton NC
          United States
          Member #207491
          June 17, 2020
          1 Posts
          Offline

          i ain't reading that whole book.. All i know is if he gets jail time he has plenty of money for commissary n protection...

          lol true

            ConstantlyB's avatar - chi
            Wilson
            United States
            Member #54514
            August 21, 2007
            2818 Posts
            Offline

            I agree...Let me get that 5+million windfall. Get my butt somewhere and sat it down!

            "Stay focused and keep pushing!"Lep Pets 394*385*734*752*707*648

            wisdom from Tyler Perry's Madea:"It doesn't matter what people call you....it's what you answer to."

              Avatar
              Chasing $ Millions.
              White Shores- California
              United States
              Member #136473
              December 12, 2012
              6337 Posts
              Offline

              I Agree!... If you retire from a certain profession, you fill that void with some other activity totally unrelated to your past career. Take up gardening, bird watching, fishing, or open up a pizza joint for goodness sake. This always looking back at your career & getting somehow involved is what can sometimes get you into trouble. Saying " l didn't know this or that" won't cut it as an excuse- you were the Sheriff for crying out loud. Sorry, but you stepped in it Chody.

               * Voice of Reason *   

               

              People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

                Avatar
                Chasing $ Millions.
                White Shores- California
                United States
                Member #136473
                December 12, 2012
                6337 Posts
                Offline

                I Agree!... If you retire from a certain profession, you fill that void with some other activity totally unrelated to your past career. Take up gardening, bird watching, fishing, or open up a pizza joint for goodness sake. This always looking back at your career & getting somehow involved is what can sometimes get you into trouble. Saying " l didn't know this or that" won't cut it as an excuse- you were the Sheriff for crying out loud. Sorry, but you stepped in it Chody.

                So, l guess if you were a sanitation engineer and you stepped in it on a regular basis- once you retired from that profession, you should stick around to see how it " flows?" 

                I Dont Care Whatever GIF

                 * Voice of Reason *   

                 

                People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.