AP NEWS

Steve Stockman wants his day in court on corruption case

March 9, 2018

Former U.S. congressman Steve Stockman stood before a federal judge in a mostly empty courtroom Friday and confirmed he wants a jury to decide if he allegedly stole nearly $800,000 in charitable donations he received from conservative organizations.

Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal confirmed that he had not entered into plea negotiations with federal prosecutors. And then she said, “Mr. Stockman, I assume you want to go to trial?”

“Yes, your honor,” he replied.

Two former aides — Jason T. Posey and Thomas Dodd — have pleaded guilty to related roles in the scheme and their testimony could be used against him at trial scheduled for later this month. Stockman faces 28 criminal counts outlined in federal indictments returned in Houston, including allegations of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, making excessive campaign contributions and money laundering.

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Defense attorney Sean Buckley said his client is confident and they’re ready to address and refute the allegations.

“As they always say, there are two sides to every story and there are most certainly two sides to this one,” Buckley said.

Buckley said he plans to argue that the two aides pleaded guilty to better their own situations, not because they or Stockman actually did anything wrong guilty.

The judge also reviewed with the lawyers a hefty pile of questionnaires mailed in by potential jurors for the month-long trial which is set to begin on Mar. 19.

Gabrielle Banks covers federal court for the Houston Chronicle. Send her email at gabrielle.banks@chron.com and follow her on Twitter.