Meanwhile, in Ken Paxton crime news…

Paxton buddy Nate Paul loses an appeal on the contempt charges against him.

A crook any way you look

The Austin real estate investor accused of bribing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton still faces 10 days in jail for contempt of court, after losing an appeal.

Paxton and the investor, Nate Paul, are the targets of an FBI investigation launched in late 2020 after Paxton’s aides accused their boss of abusing the power of his office and taking bribes from Paul, a friend and campaign donor.

A panel of the 3rd Court of Appeals largely agreed with Travis County Judge Jan Soifer’s criminal contempt of court order, though the appellate judges tossed two out of eight of Soifer’s violation findings because they found Paul was not given sufficient notice of the allegations, which infringed on his right to due process.

Soifer swiftly reissued the order Friday evening with the modifications the appellate court requested. Paul’s 10-day sentence is scheduled to begin April 10.

It is not clear yet whether he will appeal again. Paul’s attorney, Brent Perry, declined to comment.

In addition to the jail time, Soifer had also ordered Paul, who is enmeshed in legal battles with creditors over his crumbling business and bankruptcies, to pay over $180,000 in fines. Paul had not appealed that decision.

Soifer found that Paul failed to comply with a court order and repeatedly lied to her in court about it while under oath.

See here for the previous post and some starter posts for deeper background; as noted there, this rabbit hole goes way down. This Trib story has a brief summary.

Paul is central to allegations of corruption made against Paxton by eight of his former top deputies. Those deputies told authorities that Paxton had misused his office to benefit Paul, a friend and donor who had given $25,000 to Paxton in 2018.

Among the allegations was Paxton’s push to get the attorney general’s office involved in the Mitte Foundation’s lawsuit despite never previously showing interest in cases involving charities. In return, the employees said Paul donated to Paxton’s campaigns, helped him remodel his multimillion dollar home and hired Paxton’s alleged mistress. Paxton is married to state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney.

The eight top deputies who accused Paxton of corruption were fired or resigned, but their reports spurred an FBI investigation into Paxton that is now being led by the U.S. Department of Justice.

No charges have been filed. Both Paul and Paxton have denied the allegations.

Last June, Soifer issued an order that Paul report any spending over $25,000 by him or his businesses that could otherwise be used to pay the $2 million judgment he owed Mitte. The order required Paul to share monthly reports of his spending with the court.

Paul did not submit those reports for five months. In November, a few days before the court would consider Mitte’s request to hold Paul in contempt, Paul filed his first report. But in court, the nonprofit’s lawyers argued that 12 days after Soifer’s order went into effect, Paul had paid $100,000 to Avery Bradley, a former University of Texas at Austin and NBA basketball player who had filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Paul’s firm, World Class Holdings.

When Paul was asked about the payment at the hearing, he said he did not remember it, only to later acknowledge the payment in an amended report to the court, Soifer wrote. She found that payment violated her order because it was not made for “fair value” because Paul did not get anything in return.

Soifer also found that Paul lied about bank statements in court and falsely swore under oath that he had made no payments over $25,000 in violation of her order.

“Mr. Paul’s lies to the court while under oath were pervasive and inexcusable, and served to deliberately thwart the functions of the Court,” Soifer wrote.

The appeals court threw out three other violations for a separate $963,000 payment made by another of Paul’s companies, Westlake Industries, because Soifer had not given Paul “full and unambiguous” notice that he could be held in contempt for those violations.

In her new order, Soifer berated Paul for repeatedly disobeying the court orders in the case and other related lawsuits.

“He has been sanctioned numerous times in the past, and such sanctions have failed to deter Mr. Paul from continued disobedience of court orders and lack of candor with the Court,” she wrote.

Anyway. As the attorney for one of the parties suing Nate Paul said, this has been a bad week for him. And that makes it good for the rest of us.

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