Texas Laywers Charged With Ambulance Chasing

     HOUSTON (CN) – A Texas lawmaker and seven other Houston-area attorneys were charged with paying kickbacks in an ambulance chasing scheme involving hundreds of clients.
     Acting on arrest warrants obtained by Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon, police on Monday raided two chiropractic clinics and several law offices, including that of State Rep. Ron Reynolds, KHOU 11 News reported.
     Ligon charged Reynolds and the other lawyers with barratry, known as “ambulance chasing,” which is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, the CBS affiliate reported.
     Reynolds gave himself up to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, and was released on bond.
     Reynolds and the other lawyers are charged with paying kickbacks to alleged ring leader and former chiropractic clinic owner Robert Valdez, who used car accident reports to solicit victims to sign contracts for legal representation, prosecutors told KHOU 11.
     “We have information from a confidential informant, that Ron Reynolds delivered cash in envelopes to Mr. Valdez, in exchange for referring clients to him on numerous occasions,” Assistant Montgomery County DA Phil Grant told KHOU.
     Reynolds, a former municipal judge, is a managing partner at Brown, Brown and Reynolds law firm in Houston. Based in Missouri City, his legislative district includes Fort Bend County.
     In 2011 the Texas House Democratic Caucus named him “Freshman of the Year.”
     Despite his accomplishments, the 39-year-old Reynolds is no stranger to ambulance-chasing charges, as Harris County charged him with barratry last summer.
     In that case Houston attorney Marcela Halmagean set off the investigation by filing a complaint that Reynolds’ agent solicited her for legal services after she was involved in a car wreck, the Southeast Texas Record reported.
     Harris County dropped the charges, however.
     “It appears that Representative Reynolds stepped away from this organization during the period of time he was charged in Harris County,” Grant told KHOU. “After his case was dismissed, it appears that he got right back in.”
     Montgomery County’s charges are unrelated to the Houston case, Ligon told the AP.

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