Report: Rep.Reynolds convicted of misdemeanor Barratry
In a legal case that has persisted for over a year, a final verdict come down on Friday.
And District 27 State Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City), the Democratic House Whip, was convicted of five counts of Misdemeanor Barratry (colloquially known as Ambulance Chasing) at Montgomery County Court in Conroe.
Reynolds, who has proclaimed his innocence throughout the trial, has said that he intends to appeal the conviction.
The punishment will be announced on Monday, and Reynolds could face up to a $10,000 fine and up to a year in the Montgomery County Jail.
Misdemeanor convictions, unlike felonies, do not disqualify legislators from serving.
Reynolds, who saw the charges get downgraded from felonies, took the unorthodox move of representing himself in court this week, but told The Texas Tribune that he was “firing (his) lawyer…I was looking forward to closure yesterday, but the fight must go on.”
One of the prosecution’s witnesses was Robert Valdez, a four-time felon and former courier for Reynolds’ law firm.
Valdez testified against Reynolds, in a move that the state representative believes was motivated by reducing his own sentence. Valdez is currently serving a five-year prison term.
“I think it was based on, ‘I’m a Democratic state rep in a red county,” Reynolds told The Tribune. “And then you’ve got a lawyer and the only thing more unpopular than lawyers are politicians.”
In 2013, Reynolds was charged with felony Barratry in Harris County, but the charges were dropped, partially due to the fact that an investigator was found to have stolen comic books in an unrelated case.
Politically, the misdemeanor convictions could prove to be a hurdle for Reynolds to being elected to a fourth term.
Former Fort Bend Democratic Party Chairman Steve Brown had been hinting that he may challenge Reynolds in the Democratic Primary in March.
On Saturday, Brown said that an announcement was eminent, but that the timing had nothing to do with Reynolds, who he has criticized publicly.
Brown had previously run for the District 27 seat but lost to then-State Rep. Dora Olivo.
Most of the Democratic leaders in Fort Bend have backed Reynolds, despite his legal troubles.