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Former local judge convicted of fraud

HOUSTON – A former Harris County judge has admitted to embezzling funds received during her re-election campaigns, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick and Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI Houston Division.

Alexandra Smoots-Thomas, 44, Houston, was the presiding judge for the 164th District Court for the State of Texas and had jurisdiction over Texas civil cases located within Harris County. She first ran for judicial office in 2008 and successfully ran for re-election in 2012 and 2016. Several individuals and political action committees had made substantial donations to those re-election campaigns.

Today, she pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, admitting she embezzled some of those funds. She repeatedly solicited contributions on the premise the money would be used to help facilitate her re-election campaigns. However, Smoots-Thomas used the campaign funds for non-campaign expenses to include monthly home mortgage payments, private school tuition payments and personal luxury items. She concealed this spending from both her campaign treasurer and the Texas Ethics Commission by filing false campaign finance reports.

Following the plea today, U.S. District Judge Lynn H. Hughes allowed Smoots-Thomas to immediately proceed to sentencing. The court heard arguments from the government citing how Smoots-Thomas abused her position and asked for a fair sentence within the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Judge Hughes permitted her release following her time already served in custody. Restitution will be determined at a hearing set for Oct. 26.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ralph Imperato and John Pearson prosecuted the case.

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