Indicted Texas AG's lawyers ask judge to throw out charges

AP News
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Posted: Nov 03, 2015 2:03 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claims that his felony indictment on securities fraud charges this summer was bungled by grand jury leaks and a flawed investigation and has asked a judge to throw out the case.

The request, made in more than 100 pages of court filings Monday night, is the most aggressive attack the Republican has launched against two first-degree felony charges since a grand jury in his hometown of McKinney indicted him in July. He has already pleaded not guilty but has kept a low profile, mostly limiting public appearances to gatherings of Christian conservatives and tea party groups, which overwhelmingly carried him into office in January.

Brian Wice, one of two special prosecutors from Houston in the case, called the filings baseless and said they didn't merit comment.

Paxton is accused of deceiving wealthy investors, including a Texas lawmaker, by helping convince them to pump more than $100,000 into a tech startup without revealing that he was being paid by the company, Servergy Inc. The alleged fraud took place in 2011, when Paxton was still a state lawmaker.

Paxton faces 5 to 99 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charges, but his lawyers say the case is already too tainted to go forward.

The allegations include claims that a judge violated the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings by telling his wife about the Paxton case. Paxton's legal team also says the grand jury was improperly selected and that the prosecution is unlawful because the Texas State Securities Board, which fined Paxton $1,000 last year for not registering as an investment adviser, never referred the case to criminal investigators.

One of the lesser charges against Paxton, his attorney contends, also came after the statute of limitations had expired.

Paxton attorney Philip Hilder said in a statement that the circumstances "bring to the Court's attention serious matters related to this prosecution."

Paxton has said he will not resign. His office last month, however, said that Paxton has begun removing himself from some duties that could present conflicts with his role as Texas' top prosecutor. One example is that Paxton has recused himself from matters in his office that pertain to state financial regulators.

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