Travis County prosecutors rushed Monday to fix problems with an indictment against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay by charging the Sugar Land Republican with the first-degree felony of money laundering.
Last week a Travis County grand jury ended its term by indicting DeLay on a charge that accused him of conspiring to violate state campaign finance laws. The problem with that indictment, according to DeLay's lawyers, was that the conspiracy law did not apply to the election code in 2002. The Texas Legislature changed the law, which went into effect Sept. 1, 2003.
That left Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and his assistants presenting a complicated case to a group of grand jurors on their first day of meeting.
Prosecutors hoped to fix the problem by reindicting DeLay on charges that he conspired to launder corporate money into political donations. In 2002, the conspiracy law applied to money laundering.
DeLay's lawyers knew about the problem with the indictment but waited until midafternoon Monday to file a brief asking a judge to dismiss it.
"...Ronnie Earle didn’t issue the indictment against Tom DeLay. A grand jury did. And as it turns out, the jury foreman William Gibson is a former sheriff’s deputy who praises DeLay specifically for his 'aggressiveness.'
'He did his duty and that bound him to look at Tom Delay as just another Texan accused of criminal conspiracy, [Gibson] said.
'I like his aggressiveness and everything, and I had nothing against the House majority man, but I felt that we had enough evidence, not only me, but the other grand jury members,' Gibson said.
The grand jury foreman also takes great exception to accusations that he and 11 other grand jury members followed the lead of Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle instead of following the evidence.
'It was not a rubber stamp deal. It was not an overnight deal. If we needed extra information, it was provided to us,' Gibson said. …
Gibson thinks there is enough evidence to convict Delay.
'We would not have handed down an indictment. We would have no-billed the man, if we didn’t feel there was sufficient evidence,' said Gibson." [News 8 Austin | September 29, 2005]
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