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Judge accused of using campaign funds for ‘personal enrichment,’ Texas officials say

A Houston judge has been indicted on federal wire fraud charges, the U.S. Department of Justice Southern District of Texas announced on Friday.

Judge Alexandra Smoots-Thomas oversees the “164th District Court for the State of Texas and has jurisdiction over Texas civil cases” in Harris County, authorities said in a news release.

A jury indicted Smoots-Thomas, a 44-year-old from Houston, on seven counts of wire fraud on Oct. 24, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The indictments were unsealed on Friday.

“The defendant in this case is a judge, whose responsibilities are to make sure the law is followed and carried out,” Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI Houston Division said in the release. “She was entrusted to serve the citizens of Harris County with duty and honor.

“However, the allegations contained in today’s indictment show that the judge put personal enrichment over this duty and honor.”

Smoots-Thomas “embezzled campaign contributions individuals and political action committees had made to her re-election campaigns,” officials said in the release.

The indictment also said Smoots-Thomas “repeatedly solicited campaign contributions on the premise the money would be used to help facilitate her re-election campaigns in both 2012 and 2016.”

However, she is accused of using the donated funds for personal expenses such as “monthly home mortgage payments, private school tuition payments, personal travel expenses, personal luxury items and cash withdrawals,” the release said.

The indictment also alleges Smoots-Thomas withheld her actions from “her campaign treasurer and the Texas Ethics Commission by filing false campaign finance reports.”

Each count carries a possible 20 years in federal prison as well as a maximum $250,000 fine, the release said.

Tyler Carter, a Real-Time reporter based out of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is an avid lover of media, fitness, sports and telling impactful stories. Previously, he served as a trending/breaking news/crime reporter for AL.com and The Mississippi Press.
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