Prosecutions of white-collar crimes are often complicated, lengthy, and intricate. However, even by the standards of these offenses, the federal prosecution of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been a drawn-out affair.
Paxton, a Republican, was indicted on felony security fraud charges in 2015. Five years later, the case has still not gone to trial as the parties battle over an appropriate venue. In the latest twist, a judge ruled in June that the case will return to Paxton’s native Collin County.
Another judge moved Paxton’s case out of his home county to Harris County after prosecutors argued he would not get a fair trial. The Texas Tribune noted Paxton represented Collin County during his time in the state legislature. His home is now represented by Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney.
The judge’s decision to move the case to Harris County sparked legal maneuvers from the Attorney General’s defense team. His lawyers argued the judge who moved the case to Harris County lacked the authority to make the decisions because his time overseeing the case had elapsed.
The two attorneys prosecuting Paxton, Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer, disputed these claims at a hearing last December. However, Judge Robert Johnson agreed with the defense team at a hearing last month.
Further delays in the case are likely. Wice said he will appeal the decision.
He said the judge’s decision was not only wrong but it took him almost a year to make it.
Paxton is fighting charges that he misled investors in a financial services company. The allegations pre-date his time as Texas’s attorney general.
A Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton on two counts of fraud, first-degree felonies, and a single count of breaking state securities laws, a third-degree felony. Prosecutors allege Paxton failed to register with the state as an investment adviser representative.
Paxton has pleaded not guilty to all the allegations. He was cleared in a similar civil case at the federal level.
The dispute about the venue was not the only factor that delayed the case against Paxton. A side dispute over prosecutor pay also derailed the case. In 2015, Jeff Blackard, a Paxton donor sued Collin County, arguing it was paying the prosecutors too much. In 2017, the Collin County Commissioners Court voted to cease payments to the special prosecutors working on Paxton’s case. In the fall of 2018, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decided against the prosecutors in the pay dispute, ruling the six-figure payments they requested fell outside legal limits, the Texas Tribune reported.
In early 2016, the Texas Ethics Commission ruled that Paxton could not accept out-of-state donations to fund his legal defense.
White-collar crime cases are often lengthy and complicated. Paxton’s case has the added ingredient of a political dimension. Broden and Mickelsen has a long track record in the vigorous representation of people and businesses charged with various types of fraud and white-collar offenses in federal and state courts. These offenses often carry high penalties. Please contact us at (214) 720-9552 if you have been charged with an offense such as fraud or embezzlement.