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Former Texas Rep. Steve Stockman convicted on 23 felony charges
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A former Texas lawmaker is facing decades in prison after he was found guilty on 23 of 24 felony charges for defrauding conservative donors. Labeled a flight risk by prosecutors, former Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) was immediately placed in handcuffs following his conviction and escorted to a local jail pending an August sentencing hearing.
In total, Stockman swindled $1.25 million from trusting donors in what prosecutors called “a white collar crime spree.”
White collar criminal
It took a mere 16 hours for a federal jury to review all 24 counts of corruption, mail and wire fraud, money laundering federal election violations. According to the Houston Chronicle, Stockman sat emotionless as he was found guilty of each of the 23 convictions.
Ryan Patrick, the new U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, watched as the jury issued their verdict on Thursday and issued a public statement later that day.
“When public officials use their office to defraud donors and violate federal law,” the prosecutor said, “we will hold them accountable.”
After a pair of conservative mega-donors entrusted Stockman with campaign contributions and gave him broad authority to dispense the funds as needed, the Houston-area lawmaker began abusing his privileges.
Stockman used the charitable donations for his own campaign and personal expenses, including for the purchase of a new dishwasher and to pay for undercover surveillance of a political rival.
The money was supposed to go to “educating” voters and renovations for a “Freedom House” for political interns.
“Mr. Stockman is keeping his head up and we’re looking forward to getting through to the next stage of this,” defense attorney Sean Buckley said, promising to appeal the verdict.
After serving two nonconsecutive terms in the U.S. House before losing a 2014 challenge to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Stockman was considered a strong-willed Republican from the far-right. The defense argued that Stockman’s outspoken political positions made him a target of the criminal probe.
“There has been so much rhetoric publicly about Congressman Stockman and his political views. We’re in such a politically charged environment that I can’t say I’m surprised by anything,” Buckley said after the trial. “But I am disappointed and I don’t think it’s the right result.”
Besides Stockman, two of his former aides were convicted of crimes and testified against their former boss. Thomas Dodd and Jason Posey entered guilty pleas against four felonies between them.
While Stockman would be barred from running for a Texas election if his conviction is upheld in appeals court, there is no felony prohibition to run for U.S. Congress. However, after the scheduled sentencing hearing in August, seeking re-election may be the last thing on the convicted felon’s mind.
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