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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Texas Attorney General Must Face Criminal Trial

DALLAS (CN) — Texas' highest criminal appeals court on Wednesday refused to hear Attorney General Ken Paxton's appeal of securities fraud charges, paving the way for trial that could send him to state prison for 99 years.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Paxton's petition for discretionary review of a trial judge's refusal in December to dismiss two first-degree felony counts of securities fraud and a third-degree felony count of failing to register with the Texas State Securities Board. The en banc Fifth District Texas Court of Appeals in Dallas rejected Paxton's first appeal in June.

Paxton was charged by a Collin County grand jury in August 2015 with failing to tell investors in McKinney-based technology firm Servergy that he would earn commissions, and lying to them that he was investing in the company.

"Today's ruling marks an end to Mr. Paxton's almost year-long attempt to avoid being judged by a jury of his peers," special prosecutor Brian Wice said in a statement. "We look forward to going to trial and seeking justice on behalf of the people of Texas."

Paxton's attorney, William Mateja with Polsinelli in Dallas, said he will file a motion for rehearing due to their "tremendous confidence" in their case.

Mateja cited a federal judge's dismissal last week of a civil securities fraud suit brought against Paxton by the Securities and Exchange Commission that made similar allegations. "The charges against Ken Paxton are without merit," Mateja said in a statement. "A federal court, following a lower legal standard, ruled that the fraud charges were baseless."

In his 59-page appeal to the state's highest criminal court in August, Paxton said the failure to register charge should be tossed because controlling state law is "vague" and invalid, and that there is no federal definition of what an investment adviser representative is.

He also argued that the two securities fraud charges should be tossed because the grand jury should have been voided when the presiding judge asked for "volunteers" who were "willing to serve" on the grand jury.

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