Appeals panel tosses DeLay conviction
AUSTIN — A Texas appeals court dismissed the criminal conviction of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Thursday, saying there was insufficient evidence for a jury in 2010 to have found him guilty of illegally funneling money to Republican candidates.
The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals said prosecutors failed to prove that the money being laundered was illegally obtained, which the court said was required for a money laundering conviction. Prosecutors alleged that DeLay illegally channeled $190,000 in corporate donations though his political action committee and into Texas legislative races, where corporate money is barred.
“The fundamental problem with the State's case was its failure to prove proceeds of criminal activity,” the court wrote in a 2-1 decision.
Justices on the appeals court suggested that even jurors appeared confused during deliberations, based on questions they asked about whether the charge required that the money be illegally obtained in the first place.
DeLay was meeting with religious conservatives in Washington when he learned of the court's ruling.
“We were all basically on our knees praying, and my lawyer calls and says, ‘You're a free man,'” the former Texas congressman said. “It's a really happy day for me, and I just thank the Lord for carrying me through all of this.”
State prosecutors said they would appeal to Texas' highest criminal court.
“We are concerned and disappointed that two judges substituted their assessment of the facts for that of 12 jurors who personally heard the testimony of over 40 witnesses over the course of several weeks and found that the evidence was sufficient and proved DeLay's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” the Travis County district attorney's office said in a statement.
DeLay was found guilty by a jury in Austin of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors said the money he funneled to local candidates helped Republicans take control of the Texas House, enabling them to push through a DeLay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent more Republicans to Congress in 2004, strengthening his political power.
DeLay, whose heavy-handed but successful style while holding the No. 2 job in the House earned him the nickname “the Hammer,” was sentenced to three years in prison. His sentence had been on hold during the appeals process.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Deputy vanishes amid Texas flooding
- Dog found in Oregon will fly to Pa.
- Al-Qaida cell poses as great a danger as ISIS
- British hostage in Islamic State video talks of showing ‘the truth’
- White House orders plan for antibiotic resistance problem
- ‘Easy Rider’ bike set for auction
- Training, equipping Syrian rebels approved by Senate
- Man arrested in Calif. wildfire
- Red tide threatens Florida economy
- Global heat records tumble once again
- Home Depot warns 56 million cards at risk