ATHENS — A former Mabank resident, Steven Joe Clowdus, 31, has pleaded to the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for placement of a serial number with intent to change the identity of a vehicle. The plea took place in Henderson County’s 173rd Judicial District Court.
On November 13, 2012, Clowdus and a female passenger where found asleep in a Dodge pickup truck parked on a public street. Bryan Tower, a Captain at the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, noticed that the vehicle was bearing a fictitious vehicle registration sticker as well as a possibly fictitious vehicle inspection certificate. Also, the vehicle identification number plate was not properly aligned on the dash. This prevented the numbers from being properly displayed through the windshield. When questioned, both individuals provided false names, but were ultimately identified as Amber Schlicht and Steven Clowdus. They both were arrested by the Sheriff’s Office for allegedly giving false names and for alleged public intoxication. Clowdus also had a pending Burglary of a Habitation Warrant.
Agent Richard Fulton, of the Texas Department of Public Safety Regulatory Crimes, was called in to assist in the investigation. Upon investigation, Fulton quickly observed that the federal safety label which is permanently affixed by the manufacturer of the vehicle had been removed. This is usually done so that individuals can tamper with the vehicular identification number, officials say.
Further investigation revealed that Clowdus had wrecked his Dodge pickup truck and had stolen a similar truck, according to officials. The truck that Clowdus was driving that day had been placed on the side of the road with a “for sale sign.” Officials say Clowdus simply stole that vehicle, which closely resembled his own damaged vehicle, and replaced all the information. Clowdus’s wrecked vehicle was ultimately found, and all the identifying information had been removed, authorities say.