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Report: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton discussing deal to have fraud charges dropped

Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at the 2018 Texas State Republican Convention.
Julia Reihs
KUT News
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at the 2018 Texas State Republican Convention. His lawyers are reportedly in talks with prosecutors to have felony fraud charges against him dropped in exchange for community service and restitution to his accusers.

A deal is being discussed to drop the felony fraud charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton just weeks before he is scheduled to go to trial, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The prosecutors would drop the felony charges against Paxton if he pays his accusers restitution, does community service and takes advanced legal education classes, the Statesman reported Friday afternoon. The paper cited three unnamed sources with knowledge of the discussions.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations told The Texas Newsroom that Paxton's legal team and prosecutors are discussing a deal but would not comment on the details reported in the Statesman, noting nothing is final at the moment.

Lead prosecutor Brian Wice declined to comment.

There is a court hearing in Paxton’s fraud cases scheduled for Tuesday, during which the parties could release more information. His trial is set for April 15.

Any deal of this kind would be a major win for Paxton.

It would put to bed the indictments that have dogged the Republican official for almost 10 years. It would also keep him in office — and out from behind bars. If he is tried and convicted, Paxton could face decades in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines, as well as removal from his job as attorney general.

The alleged crimes dated back to Paxton’s time in the Texas House. He was accused of defrauding investors in a McKinney tech startup, including a fellow Republican legislator, and funneling clients to an investment firm without being registered with the state.

A Collin County grand jury indicted him in summer 2015. He was charged with two first-degree and one third-degree felony and released on bond. He pleaded not guilty, saying the allegations were nothing more than attacks from enemies within his own political party.

But Paxton’s trial kept getting delayed.

His lawyers succeeded in having several judges removed from the case, arguing they did not have the authority to try him. The prosecutors had the proceedings moved from Collin to Harris County, saying they wouldn’t have a fair trial in the McKinney courthouse where Paxton himself has practiced law for years.

The case was delayed further by a separate lawsuit over how much the prosecutors pursuing the charges should be paid, as well as due to COVID-19 and Hurricane Harvey.

For years, the prosecutors fought to get Paxton in front of a jury. Even last month, Paxton tried one final time to have the case thrown out, arguing his rights to a speedy trial were violated. The presiding judge rejected the attempt.

Despite his legal woes, Paxton has remained popular among Republican voters.

As the state’s top lawyer, he has allied himself with former president Donald Trump and used his position to advocate for hardline immigration and anti-LGBTQ policies. He was re-elected to a third term in office in November 2022.

Paxton has celebrated a number of huge wins in recent months, from beating impeachment charges to pushing out opponents in the statehouse and top Texas criminal court.

However, Paxton is still under active federal investigation for the same corruption allegations that led to his impeachment, and he is being sued by the ex-staff members who first raised these accusations for wrongful termination.

He also faces a lawsuit filed by a disciplinary committee of the State Bar of Texas for his role in challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Lauren McGaughy is an investigative reporter and editor at The Texas Newsroom. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X and Threads @lmcgaughy.
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