Judge Tells Why He|Gave Paxton a Break

     McKINNEY, Texas (CN) – A Texas judge criticized for giving Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton preferential treatment explained why he exempted him from wearing a towel around his neck in a jail booking shot, as others have to.
     Paxton, of McKinney, was booked at the Collin County jail Monday on felony securities charges . He is accused of selling more than $100,000 in McKinney-based Servergy stock to two investors in July 2011 without disclosing that he would be paid commissions on it: two first-degree felonies.
     And he failed to disclose that he had been given 100,000 shares in the company, according to the indictment: a third-degree felony.
     If convicted of a first-degree felony he could be sentenced to life in state prison.
     Accusations of special treatment arose when Paxton’s mug shot was released, showing him smiling in a suit and tie.
     For several years, Collin County Sheriff Terry Box has required arrestees to wear a white towel over their neck and shoulders to prevent witnesses from incorrectly identifying suspects based on their clothes.
     County officials said Monday that Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher exempted Paxton from the sheriff’s order. The judge’s 1-page order was released Tuesday.
     “The court has been made aware of the policy of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office to photograph inmates at the Collin County jail while the inmate is wearing a towel around the neck of the inmate,” the order states. “Due to the high profile nature of this case and the defendant’s right to a fair trial, the court hereby orders the Sheriff of Collin County, Texas, to refrain from making the defendant wear a towel while being photographed in the custody of the Collin County Sheriff’s Department.” Paxton’s attorney Joe Kendall, of Dallas, said Monday that Paxton would plead not guilty and ask for a jury trial.
     “He is looking forward to the opportunity to tell his side of the story in the courtroom of Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher, who was appointed to the case after Judge Chris Oldner’s recusal on July 29,” Kendall said. “Judge Gallagher has given instructions to make no further public comments or publicly speculate on events. Attorney General Paxton and I intend to comply with Judge Gallagher’s instructions. In the meantime, the attorney general is returning to Austin to focus on his work on behalf of the citizens of Texas.”
     Paxton broke his silence on the case Tuesday by sending an email message to supporters. Paxton thanked them for “standing with me” and for “now walking forward” with him.
     “I am honored and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and encouragement that my family and I have received over the last few days,” Paxton said. “Know that I expect to be fully vindicated of these charges when the full facts of this case come to light, and I refuse to be distracted or deterred from my commitment to the people of Texas to fight for the rule of law.”
     Paxton said he will direct all questions to his attorneys and looks forward to telling in court the story “the grand jury did not hear.”
     “While yesterday’s news coverage may have come as a surprise to many of you, I can assure you that it did not catch us off guard,” Paxton said. “Our silence was purposeful and driven by respect for the law as the information was under judicial seal until noon yesterday.”
      Paxton’s troubles began when the Texas State Securities Board fined him $1,000 last year after he admitted he had solicited clients for a friend’s investment firm, Mowery Capital Management, while he was a state senator, without being registered as an investment adviser. Paxton paid the fine and was reprimanded.
     The new charges came from a Texas Rangers investigation that began after the slap on the hand from the Securities Board.

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