Prosecutors Say Texas State Rep Paid Thousands to Online Psychic

By Kelsey Jukam

AUSTIN, Texas (CN) – Prosecutors say a state representative facing corruption charges spent more than $51,000 on an online psychic, showed up to work at the Capitol while impaired by morphine, and hid a cell phone from investigators.

The accusations are among 19 “extraneous acts” contained in a court document filed this week in the case against Austin Democrat Dawnna Dukes.

Prosecutors filed the document Tuesday to give notice to Dukes of the evidence they intend to bring up in her misdemeanor trial on a charge she gave a taxpayer-funded raise to an aide to cover gas money for driving her daughter to and from school.

Dukes has also been indicted for another misdemeanor charge and 13 felony charges.

Assistant District Attorney Justin Wood said in the evidence notice that Dukes paid $51,348.22 in online psychic charges between December 2015 and January 2016.

It is not clear how the evidence in the document relates to the charge. Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore did not respond to requests for comment Friday before publication.

The trial is set to begin in October.

The second misdemeanor charge alleges that Dukes deposited checks into her personal account that should have gone to her campaign account, while the felony charges accuse the representative of tampering with government records by making false entries on travel vouchers to obtain reimbursements for expenses to which she was not entitled.

Moore told the Austin American-Statesman last week that prosecutors are setting aside the felony charges against Dukes while they investigate new information relating to the travel vouchers.

“The district attorney’s office recently received new, unexpected information pertinent to that case and the new information has created a need for further investigation by this office and the Texas Rangers,” Moore said.

In July, the district attorney’s office offered Dukes a deal. Prosecutors said they would drop the corruption charges against Dukes if she resigned from office and agreed to a drug and alcohol assessment.

Dukes did not answer by the deadline, and the offer was dropped. In a Facebook post the day after the deal deadline, Dukes said “it would be indecorous … to respond to impertinent allegations.”

“I refuse to dignify through statement any of the numerous elements alleged,” Dukes wrote. “My attorneys continue to advise that defense cases should not be tried in the media.”

Dukes, who has been serving in the Texas Legislature since 2006, missed most of the 2015 legislative session because of health issues relating to a car accident.

Facing pressures from constituents unhappy with her attendance record and an investigation by the State Auditor’s Office, Dukes announced in Sept. 2016 that she would step down before the legislature reconvened in Jan. 2017. She cited health issues and concerns over caring for her daughter as reasons for her resignation, but changed her mind and was sworn into her 12th term in January.

Dukes was indicted a week later.

She reportedly missed more than 100 record votes during the regular legislative session this year, which ended in May. Wood said in the evidence notice that Dukes showed up late to a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee in March and admitted to being impaired.

“I know I’m talking a lot,” Dukes said at the meeting, according to the court document. “I’m full of morphine and will be headed out of here soon.”

Dukes could be punished with up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 for each of the misdemeanor abuse of official capacity charges.

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