AUSTIN, Texas — It has been an up-and-down week for Texas State Representative Ron Reynolds. On Tuesday, Reynolds, an attorney and Democrat representing Missouri City, coasted to an easy re-election, winning 66 percent of the vote against his Republican opponent. Wednesday, he was in a Montgomery County courtroom — not to represent a client, but to face trial for 10 felony counts of “barratry,” the illegal solicitation of clients by attorneys commonly referred to as “ambulance chasing.” Finally, on Friday, he managed to avoid a felony conviction, but was found guilty of six misdemeanor counts for a lesser charge of “solicitation of professional employment.”
As Breitbart Texas previously reported, Reynolds has had multiple ethical and legal problems since being admitted to the Texas Bar in 2000, including having his license to practice law suspended twice by the Texas Bar and a $10,000 fine by the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to file required campaign finance disclosures, which he failed to pay until after the Texas Attorney General sued him to collect and the Comptroller placed a “warrant hold” on his state reimbursement checks. These problems, coupled with his lack of legislative accomplishments, led Texas Monthly to brand him one of the “Worst Legislators of 2013.”
Reynolds’ latest troubles stem from a sting operation that led to his arrest, along with seven other Houston-area attorneys last year, accusing them of hiring a four-time felon named Robert Ramirez Valdez to illegally solicit clients for them. Texas law prohibits attorneys from soliciting clients for personal injury, wrongful death, and disaster claims. Valdez, currently serving a five-year sentence for his role, testified that the attorneys paid him thousands of dollars to read Houston police accident reports, and then make house calls to accident victims to solicit them to be clients for the attorneys.
In 2012, Reynolds faced similar charges in Harris County, for allegedly using a chiropractor’s office to solicit clients, but those charges were dropped after one of the investigators was charged with stealing evidence in another case.
If Reynolds had been convicted of barratry, which is a felony, he would have been forced to resign from the Legislature, and would have faced a maximum $10,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison, in addition to potential further discipline by the Texas Bar. Instead, his misdemeanor conviction will allow him to remain a State Representative, but he still faces up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Monday morning.
Photo credit: Ron Reynolds via Facebook.
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