HOUSTON, Texas — A Harris County judge has been indicted on wire fraud charges on allegations she used campaign funds for personal expenses, including mortgages, travel, luxury items, private school, and cash withdrawals, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
On October 24, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted 164th District Court Judge Alexandra Smoots-Thomas, 44, of Houston, Texas, on seven counts of wire fraud. The indictment was unsealed today as Smoots-Thomas surrendered to federal authorities.
She appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Bray earlier today where she pled not guilty.
The 164th District Court for the State of Texas has jurisdiction over Texas civil cases within Harris County.
"The indictment alleges 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," according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. "She allegedly used campaign funds for non-campaign expenses to include monthly home mortgage payments, private school tuition payments, personal travel expenses, personal luxury items and cash withdrawals."
Smoots-Thomas concealed this spending from both her campaign treasurer and the Texas Ethics Commission by filing false campaign finance reports, according to the charges.
“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 stated. “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."
Each count of wire fraud carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison as well as a maximum $250,000 fine.
The FBI conducted the investigation.