Rep. Reynolds hopes to finally clear his name
By Michael Sudhalter
District 27 State Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) has seen the Barratry charges against him downgraded, and then delayed multiple times, including once due to a mistrial.
But the three-term state representative said he’s looking forward to finally clearing his name when he appears in Montgomery County Court to face five Misdemeanor counts of Barratry, colloquially known as “Ambulance Chasing”, on Monday in Conroe.
If convicted on any or all of the charges, Reynolds could face a maximum of a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
The downgrade to a misdemeanor is significant since state representatives can serve with a misdemeanor on their record, but not a felony.
“I refuse to do any kind of plea, because I’m innocent,” Reynolds said. “That’s why I requested a speedy trial. I’m pretty certain I’ll be acquitted and it’ll be over with.”
Reynolds said the Montgomery County prosecutors are trying to save face for “selective prosecution” after failing to get a felony conviction, and he says they lack evidence.
“The defense has some new information that shows further evidence of them singling me out,” Reynolds said. “Most prosecutors do more homework before filing cases on someone. These prosecutors didn’t do any due diligence.”
Reynolds said the Montgomery County DA’s Office built its case on the word of convicted felon Robert Valdez, a former courier for Reynolds’ law firm. Reynolds said Valdez was doing whatever he could to try and reduce a 25 year-to-life prison sentence.
But Joel Daniels, who is prosecuting the case for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, defended the DA’s Office’s decisions in its case against Reynolds.
“We filed the charge that we thought was appropriate, and we’re proceeding with the charge that we think is appropriate and the evidence will come out at trial,” Daniels said. “We look forward to presenting the case to a jury and having a final resolution to the matter.”
Reynolds was re-elected last November by a wide margin, despite the charges pending in court.
The charges don’t seem to be affecting his plans of being re-elected next November, but former Fort Bend Democratic Party Chairman Steve Brown — who is considering challenging Reynolds in the March primary — has raised the issue of the Barratry case as well as civil lawsuits that Reynolds is facing with his private law practice.
Reynolds was originally scheduled to stand trial for felony and misdemeanor Barratry in Aug. 2014.
The case was delayed until the week of the 2014 Election, because Reynolds’ attorney had another trial.
Last November, a Montgomery County jury decided Reynolds was not guilty of the felonies, but convicted him of the misdemeanors.
Before the judge could read the penalty, a mistrial was declared because a juror reported inconsistencies.
The trial was tentatively scheduled for January, but then delayed until last August so Reynolds could participate in the 84th State Legislature.
In August, Montgomery County prosecutors figured out they couldn’t try Reynolds on felony charges due to double jeopardy, and re-scheduled the misdemeanor cases to a misdemeanor court.
Reynolds faced Barratry charges in Harris County in 2012, but the charges were dropped in 2013, partially due to an investigator who stole comic books in an unrelated case.