Friday, April 30, 2010

Terri Hodge headed for one-year stretch in federal pen

Former state Rep. Terri Hodge was sentenced to a year in federal prison after a slew of bigshots testified at her sentencing hearing asking for leniency, reports the Dallas News. According to the DMN Investigates Blog:

Jason Trahan says [Hodge's] supporters included: Dallas County state District Judge John Creuzot; former state Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt; current Houston-area state Rep. Dora Olivo; Brendolyn Rogers Johnson, a former member of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles; and James P. Graham, chairman of Palo Petroleum and former chairman of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board.

This quote particularly stood out for me from the news coverage:

Brendolyn Rogers Johnson, a former member of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, spoke to the judge on Hodge's behalf.

"Ms. Hodge is a lady of integrity, compassion and is relentless in her pursuit of fairness and justice for all," Johnson said. "I have personally witnessed her work tirelessly for the people in her district, as well as those who called upon her for assistance."

"Compasssion"? For some. "Relentless"? Yes, but also ineffectual. However, "a lady of integrity"? No ma'am. She is not.

After the first time I mentioned these allegations on Grits, then-Rep. Hodge pidgeon-holed me at the capitol and angrily berated me, swearing up and down it was all a pack of lies, that when the case went to trial everyone would see she was innocent. Hodge wanted me to publish a followup including her declarations of innocence, but even then I didn't believe her. By that time the records had already been discovered regarding the developers paying her rent, and she simply had no credible explanation - indeed, she didn't even attempt to provide one.

I said the best I could do was wait till all the evidence was in to pass judgment, and now it's in. She was lying, not just to me but to everybody, to her constituents - maybe IMO even to herself - and she tried to cover it up by bullying those who crossed her. Terri Hodge lacked integrity at a fundamental level. And the array of Democratic politicians in Dallas who tolerate and excuse such behavior deserve nearly as much disapprobation as she does.

Yes, Terri Hodge fought the good fight on several issues I care about, but so did a lot of people who weren't taking bribes or illegally siphoning money from their campaign account. I'm tired of being asked to excuse corruption and avarice on the pretext of good intentions. At this particular point in history, that's not good enough anymore.

Related: Terri Hodge pleads guilty: Prisoner advocate to leave Lege in disgrace

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

amen and amen!

Anonymous said...

The points of many are made when you see one corrupt politician being backed by other politicians..

power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.. yeah, that about fits the bill here.

Anonymous said...

They are just like those TYC perverts in charge in Austin. Burn in Hell.

Anonymous said...

The real criminals get "slaps on the wrists". Why just 90days? Why probation? He committed felonies! Same reason this woman only got a year. She had friends in high places! The rest of us don't!

Burleson attorney gets 90 days of jail in plea deal
Posted Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010
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By MELODY McDONALD

mjmcdonald@star-telegram.com

A Burleson attorney was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years' probation Thursday for falsifying court documents in a Johnson County divorce case and in an unrelated breach-of-contract lawsuit.

Kevin S. Williams struck a deal with prosecutors and, in exchange for the sentence, he pleaded guilty to fabricating evidence. Had he gone to trial, he could have faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

As part of the plea deal, he was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, surrender his law license, and write a public apology to the judges and attorneys of Tarrant and Johnson counties.

"I think it's a pretty tough plea, but that is the way we deal with lawyers who violate the rules. We owe a higher duty to the public," said David Lobingier, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney who was brought in as a special prosecutor. "We don't want to give anyone a slap on the wrist, especially lawyers."

Williams' attorney, Kyle Whitaker, could not be reached for comment late Thursday. Williams' public apology read:

"I sincerely apologize for the taint and tarnish my actions, and resulting criminal indictment, have caused to our noble and honorable profession. The overwhelming majority of lawyers daily abide by the ethical rules, and conduct themselves in an honorable and righteous manner, and I realize my conduct has a detrimental effect on the profession. For all the negative that has resulted from my conduct and association with our profession, I am truly sorry."

According to the State Bar of Texas website, Williams voluntarily gave up his law license March 15.

Lobingier and an investigator with Tarrant County's economic crimes unit were appointed Oct. 9 by Judge William Bosworth of the 413th District Court in Johnson County to investigate complaints against Williams, who practiced criminal, civil and family law in Johnson and Tarrant counties.

Officials said Williams, a 2003 graduate of the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, falsified documents in a breach-of-contract real estate lawsuit and then gave the documents to his clients after they inquired about the status of their suit.

One document, a petition, bore the forged signature of Fort Worth attorney Greg Westfall. The two other documents, which were default judgments, had the forged signatures of 18th District Judge John Neill and Tarrant County Family Court Judge William Harris.

While they were investigating that incident, Lobingier said, they learned that Williams had presented a counterfeit final divorce decree to the ex-wife of a client, which had another unauthorized Neill signature.

In February, a Johnson County grand jury indicted Williams on one count each of fabricating a document, tampering with a government document and forgery in the divorce case. In the breach-of-contract case, the grand jury returned three counts of tampering with documents and three counts of forgery.

Lobingier said he doesn't understand why Williams chose to create false documents instead of legitimately performing his job.

"I think he was just lazy," he said. "I have yet to figure out any benefit to him for doing this."

MELODY M cDONALD, 817-390-7386


Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/04/29/2153522/burleson-attorney-gets-90-days.html#ixzz0mfBEDwjj

Anonymous said...

According to the Texas Tribune Blog: Hodge Sentenced to a Year in Prison
by Emily Ramshaw
April 27, 2010

Hodge, 69, who has since been replaced in the Legislature by Democrat Eric Johnson, pleaded guilty to lying on her tax return. The Dallas Morning News reports that Hodge, who spent 14 years in office, addressed the court before the sentencing, saying:


"As a public official, my actions have cast a bad light on many other elected officials. What I've done has contributed to some people's distrust of the political system. All I can say is I am truly sorry for my mistakes.

Wonder if these people have standard apologies. As if an apolgy changes anything they've done! 1 Year isn't enough, neither is 90 days! When those in these kinds of jobs get sentences this short, what hope is there for any real justice for anybody!

Anonymous said...

One crooked member of the Corrections Committee is FINALLY gone! Fourteen long years before she was "slapped on the wrist"; I now understand why the smart one's are never punished!

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

Grits!This maybe the we don't think alike on.I have alway's felt sorry for Texas House Member's who Make Texas laws and are paid next to nothing.It's hard to fight tempation's of bribes when you make less a month than most people living on minumim wage.This is one of the few branches of political office that actually needs a raise, or the corrutption will continue.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I don't think it has a damn thing to do with the House members' pay rate, 8:11. It's not a full-time job, after all. They just meet a few months every two years, what's her excuse for not earning a living the rest of the time? Do you really suppose she's able to find people to pay her rent for free but can't find a job? Terri Hodge made a choice to be corrupt. Having a developer for whom you do favors pay your rent for years on end is just straight-up praetorian and unethical.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me 8:11 It's hard to fight the temptation of "selling drugs" when you make minumim wage too.

Do yo feel sorry for them too?

Obviously Making Texas Laws doesn't mean much if you think they don't apply to you!

Anonymous said...

I am concerned when I see light sentences given to crimes done by people that should be of good moral standing. Another example is the case of attorney Kevin s. Williams, 90days and 5 yrs porbation!!! It was stated that it was a hard sentence, are you kidding us, if one of us did this we would get 10 to 20 yrs or more he forged names of Judges and others. They would just throw away the key on us. It is sad that the people we should be able to trust not only do these things; for whatever reason, none is good enough, it shows everyone below them it is ok to be dishonest and break the law. I do hope any case these people had anything to do with will be thrown out and the people freed or at least given the same short sentence they were given. So many people are in jail that have done less than these two and they have to face sentences that are for many, many more years. My 'GOD' have mercy on these wicked peoples souls.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully she will learn her lesson. To many politicians speak out of both sides of their mouths. They need to stop the old adage "do as I say, not as I do". I give credit to the fact that she was prosecuted. I just wonder how many others were corrupted by those developers! I want to say "only in Houston" but I know better. Happens here in San Antonio as well.

Anonymous said...

Former state Rep. Terri Hodge gets a year in prison for role in Dallas City Hall bribery case

12:10 AM CDT on Wednesday, April 28, 2010
By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News
jtrahan@dallasnews.com

A disgraced but contrite former state Rep. Terri Hodge, who admitted tax fraud in the Dallas City Hall corruption case, walked out of her sentencing hearing Tuesday with orders to report to federal prison in June to serve a year behind bars.

Hodge, 69, resigned from the Texas House after pleading guilty in February to tax fraud for not reporting bribes from a developer as income on her taxes. She choked up as she asked U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn to give her probation.

'A higher duty'

Lynn made it clear to Hodge and her roomful of supporters, including former and current state representatives, that this was no routine tax case.

"You had a higher duty," the judge said. "I believe, in fact, you did abuse the trust of the people of Texas by taking money you shouldn't have taken.

Lynn said ... it took Hodge more than two years to admit responsibility. She was indicted in 2007.

Lynn also lamented that she was able to sentence Hodge only for the tax fraud count, which is all Hodge agreed to in her deal negotiated with prosecutors. Even though the statutory maximum sentence is three years, her plea agreement capped it at one year.

Hodge originally faced 14 counts, which could have resulted in up to a century in prison.

"I have a level of discomfort that this is being characterized as it is, when I know that the nature of the offense is broader than the single count that is left," the judge told Hodge before sentencing her. "What occurred here is much more serious."

She "choked up" asking for probation. Was she sorry for what she did or just sorry she got caught. After all, it took her 2 years to admit to guilt. And it certainly doesn't say much for the character of the current state representative who was there to support her, now does it?

That woman faced 14 counts that should have put her in prison for a century and she's only going to be there 1 year. And one of the former members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was there too. CORRUPTION, CORRUPTION, CORRUPTION! Birds of a feather flock together!

Dirty birds......Disgusting, all of you!

Michael said...

COME ON you people!!! Prison is a place we send people who are threats to society. None of you feel threatened by Terri Hodge. While I make no attempt to diminish what she has admitted to as wrong, I still can't help but to wonder how many politicians do what she did, or much worse. Moreover, I think Terri had enemies in this state because of her advocacy against the powerful prison system. Reminder... James "Andy" Collins was a paid consultant for Vitapro, being paid $100,000 a year while he was Executive Director of TDCJ. The slime didn't serve a second in any jail and is probably enjoying a life of retirement in a mansion on Lake Austin today.

Anonymous said...

Prison is a place we send people as a lesson to other people.

Aaron said...

Michael:

Prison is also used as a deterrent. If you do not punish corruption sufficiently, then you'll never get rid of it. (you could argue it shouldn't be used as a deterrent if you want)

The fact that others got away with it is a particularly bad argument. It is basically giving in because corruption is hard to fight. What is called for is a step up in investigation and/or maybe even an increase in punishment to increase the incentive not to be corrupt even if getting caught is unlikely.

GRITS:

Thanks for sticking to your guns. The pernicious effect of bias is probably the hardest thing to fight in a democracy. It has the terrible ability of making even the intelligent and good intentioned fight to sustain injustice/bad ideas. And it effects all of us.

Anonymous said...

Stupidity and arrogance,...a dangerous combination!

Anonymous said...

Grits, when you pay people the low rate the Texas House gets, this is the quality of a person you get Making Texas Laws.You think this problem begin's and end's with Terry Hodge? You get what you pay for.

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