April 12, 2018 / 8:35 PM / 5 months ago

Former congressman Stockman convicted of fraud in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A federal jury in Houston on Thursday found former Republican U.S. Representative Steve Stockman guilty of fraud and siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for his personal use.

Stockman, 61, who served two terms representing a Houston-area district from 1995 to 1997 and again from 2013 to 2015, was found guilty on all but one of 24 felony charges including fraud, making false statements, money laundering and violating U.S. election laws, court records showed.

“Obviously we are disappointed with the verdict and are working now for preparing for the sentencing proceedings,” said Sean Buckley, an attorney for Stockman. He said an appeal was planned.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Stockman from May 2010 to October 2014 solicited and obtained about $1.25 million in donations based on false pretenses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Houston said.

“When public officials use their office to defraud donors and violate federal law, we will hold them accountable,” U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick of the Southern District of Texas said in a statement.

Stockman could face up to 20 years in prison for each of the seven fraud count convictions when he is sentenced in August, local media reported.

According to a criminal complaint, Stockman and two of his congressional employees diverted money from a charity in Nevada called “Life Without Limits” for his personal and political use, including one payment of $350,000 in 2013.

When he was in Congress, Stockman, a staunch conservative, gained notoriety for threatening to seek the impeachment of then-President Barack Obama if he tried to implement gun control regulations through executive action.

In 2014, Stockman was trounced in a Republican primary challenge to incumbent John Cornyn for a U.S. Senate seat.

Thomas Dodd, 38, a former special assistant in Stockman’s congressional office, and Jason Posey, 46, a former Stockman congressional staffer, previously pleaded guilty to their involvement in the scheme, U.S. prosecutors said.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney

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