Crime

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Booked On Fraud Charges

| by Reuters

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Tea Party Republican, turned himself in on Monday and was booked on three felony charges involving suspected securities fraud, a case critics have said undermines the integrity of the state's top law man.

Paxton appeared for processing on the charges and posed for a mug shot in Collin County, near Dallas. Bail was set at $35,000, and Paxton immediately posted bond and was released, according to the Collin County Sheriff's office.

The contents of a sealed three-count indictment will soon be released, the Dallas Morning News and other media outlets reported.

Neither Paxton nor the special prosecutors appointed to the case have commented on the indictment. Paxton took his post earlier this year as the state's top law-enforcement official, pledging a fight against abortion, same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

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A grand jury in July heard evidence presented by the prosecutors and the Texas Rangers. It returned the indictment that includes first-degree felony charges, which can bring up to 99 years in prison.

Paxton drew national attention when he said county clerks in Texas who object to gay marriage on religious grounds can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June requiring states to allow same-sex marriage.

When he was in the state legislature, Paxton was hired to seek clients by investment firm Mowery Capital Management, which is facing allegations from the State Securities Board of defrauding investors.

The board found in May 2014 that Paxton was not properly registered as an investment adviser in his work with the firm. It reprimanded him and fined him $1,000.

Paxton's name also appears in a federal court document as a major investor in a Dallas-area firm in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.Court documents in the federal investigation of the technology firm called Servergy do not make any allegations of misconduct by Paxton or draw links to the investigation into securities fraud in Texas.

Few of the state's Republican leadership have publicly shown support for Paxton following reports of the indictment

Paxton's appearance was a low-key affair compared with the arraignment of then-Governor Rick Perry of Texas on abuse of power charges last year.

Perry, now a Republican presidential contender for 2016, rallied supporters to the processing center in Austin and made a speech denouncing what he described as a politically motivated prosecution.

(By Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Marice Richter in Dallas; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Photo credit: The Dallas Morning News