Lewis hires attorney, accuses board member of libel
Mar. 17—For the second time this year, Tim Harry, an appointed member of multiple City of Odessa boards, has been issued a "cease and desist" letter for remarks he has posted on Facebook.
Retired businessman and Dos Amigos founder Ronnie Lewis hired local attorney Gaven Norris to send Harry the letter after Harry alleged Lewis is a drug dealer during a March 5 discussion on the Odessa Accountability Project's Facebook page.
The OAP posted a Midland Reporter Telegram editorial written by Mayor Javier Joven that Harry commented on. Lewis tagged him and asked him if he'd "silence your precinct or will you let voters in your precinct have a choice for Ector County Republican Party Chair?"
Harry responded with the following: "I wouldn't sign your petition to run for dog catcher. I'm not a fan of drug dealers."
In the cease and desist letter sent to Harry on Lewis' behalf, Norris demanded Harry stop publishing "false and defamatory statements on social media regarding Lewis."
Norris noted Lewis is not and has never been a drug dealer.
Harry, who refused service of a certified letter Thursday afternoon, did not respond to a text seeking comment.
Norris further accused Harry of intentionally publishing "libel statements on the public social media forum are statements intended to injury Ronnie Lewis' reputation and thereby expose Ronnie Lewis to public hatred or contempt or ridicule, or financial injury or to impeach Ronnie Lewis' honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation."
Norris gave Harry 30 days to retract, correct or clarify his statements or risk facing court actions that could include punitive damages.
Lewis said he is tired of the bullying tactics of Harry and others including elected officials and those who hold local GOP positions. He has long charged that they bully and belittle Odessans via Facebook often on phony profiles like that of Finnegan Lane and Josiah Vargas, which were two accounts written about by the OA several months ago.
Both accounts continue to post on Facebook.
Norris sent Harry another cease and desist letter earlier this year on his own behalf. He, too, asked for a retraction within 30 days.
Shortly after the Odessa City Council voted to fire City Manager Michael Marrero and City Attorney Natasha Brooks, there were several Facebook exchanges between Odessa Development Corporation Chairman Kris Crow, Norris, a person going by the name of Josiah Vargas and Harry about the lawsuit Norris filed claiming Joven violated open meetings laws.
On Jan. 4, Harry wrote the following statement about Norris on Facebook: "He has also left clients in a lurch with no representation in the courtroom after being held in contempt over his temper."
Norris said that wasn't true and sent Harry the "cease and desist letter" and Harry responded by filing a bar complaint against Norris on Feb. 7.
Harry wrote Norris was using the legal system "as a threat and intimidation in his quest to silence his political foes."
The bar ruled on Feb. 28 that the allegations do not "demonstrate professional misconduct or a disability."
Norris said he has not yet received an apology from Harry and is considering taking further legal action against him.