A motion filed in federal court contains blockbuster allegations against one of the special prosecutors Collin County taxpayers have been paying to prosecute Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The US Attorney for the Western District of Texas is seeking to disqualify Houston criminal defense attorney Kent Schaffer from representing Jeffrey Faye Pike in the government’s prosecution of the Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Organization. In its motion, the US Attorney is arguing that Schaffer, who is currently representing Pike, is directly involved in the operations of the Bandidos gang.
Schaffer, along with Brian Wice, another Houston criminal defense attorney, was unlawfully appointed by Collin County District Judge Scott Becker to serve as special prosecutor to pursue securities charges against Paxton. Local taxpayers have been fighting to stop payments to the pair, which are expected to reach into the millions, on the grounds that the payments violate state law and local judicial rules.
In its motion, the US Attorney alleges that Bandidos gang members will testify that Schaffer was the lawyer for the entire organization. In that role, he would review the legal paperwork of members who had been arrested in order to detect signs that the members were cooperating with law enforcement. Those who Schaffer identified as cooperators would then be subject to physical violence, intimidation, and threats.
“The government’s evidence demonstrates that Mr. Schaffer entangled himself … to an extraordinary degree in the activities of the Bandidos,” argues the US Attorney. The motion goes on to allege other ethical breaches, including a conflict of interest relating to Schaffer’s former representation of Bandidos gang members who are now testifying for the government and that Schaffer will be forced to become an unsworn fact witness when the case goes to trial.
The indictment alleges the Bandidos are a criminal enterprise engaged in murder, attempted murder, robbery, extortion, and trafficking in controlled substances, amongst other crimes. The gang gained national attention when it became embroiled in a shootout in Waco last year that resulted in nine deaths.
In recent months, a parallel civil case against Paxton brought by the Obama administration has unraveled as the Securities and Exchange Commission has been unable to allege facts amounting to a breach of securities laws on Paxton’s part.
Meanwhile, Schaffer and Wice have refused to drop their criminal prosecution of Paxton despite being required to prove their charges by a much higher standard of proof. The SEC case and the criminal prosecution are both based on the same set of facts. They both essentially seek to turn paperwork errors and Paxton’s failure to dispel the assumptions of investors into felonies.
Of course, dropping the case would mean that Schaffer and Wice would forfeit their chance at an exorbitant $300 per hour fee guaranteed to them by Collin County District Judge Scott Becker. Win or lose, Schaffer and Wice stand to earn millions prosecuting Paxton if the Collin County Commissioners Court agrees to pay them at the rate guaranteed by Becker.
It is ironic that the special prosecutors who are seeking to twist paperwork violations and investor assumptions into felonies are, themselves, directly connected to very real crimes. Yet that irony turns to tragedy when it is clear the prosecution is being used to try to destroy a good man’s life all while ripping off the taxpayers.