By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Richard Connelly
By Jeff Balke
By Casey Michel
By Craig Hlavaty
The convictions will probably end the political lives of Reyes, the longtime king of Houston Hispanic politics, and Maldonado, an up-and-comer in the administration of mayor Bob Lanier. In fact, if Reyes's and Maldonado's appeals are unsuccessful, each could face a substantial prison term: Prosecutors indicated Reyes could get five years and Maldonado two in minimum-security Club Fed.
Of course, those times could be halved if Reyes and Maldonado assist in Sting 3, the trial of the three remaining defendants: incumbent Councilmembers John Castillo and Michael Yarbrough and former councilman and judge John Peavy.
At least one member of the original Hotel Six is smiling as 1998 draws to a close. Lobbyist Ross Allyn was acquitted on all charges during the first trial, and he's now back plying his trade at City Hall, representing one of the factions in the dispute over access to alleyways in the Heights.
For federal prosecutors Mike Attanasio and John Scott, Houston is becoming a second home. The third sting trial will likely run from midspring to early summer, making this their fourth year in the Bayou City. Of course, not all of their time has been spent poring over transcripts and videotapes. Bachelor Attanasio has developed a very close friendship with KPRC-Channel 2 anchor Susan Lennon, who as a result has removed herself from the Sting story.(Tim Fleck)
Last spring, prison-escape artist Steven Russell outdid his previous exploits, this time by convincing state parole officials that he was dead ("The Further Adventures of King Con," May 14). In February, Russell received "special needs" parole -- most often granted to inmates too ill to be properly cared for in prison -- after convincing prison medical personnel that he was dying of AIDS. A few weeks later, parole officials were informed that Russell had passed away. In point of fact, he was off and running.
In April, after a member of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force caught on to the scheme, Russell was captured in Florida. He's currently incarcerated at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Michael Unit in east Texas. Prison officials refuse to allow Russell to talk with the media, saying that ten months after his escape, their investigation remains "ongoing."
As 1998 drew to a close, Russell was still behind bars. Or at least he was the last time we checked. (Steve McVicker)
This week marks five years since the body of 29-year-old Paul Beauchamp was pulled from a pond in Montgomery County ("An Open and Shut Case," July 30). Thomas Minnich, who lived near the pond, claimed that he thought he was shooting at a turtle -- not the back of Beauchamp's head.
The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office initially ruled Beauchamp's death an accidental drowning. But three years later, Beauchamp's body was exhumed, and Chief Medical Examiner Joye Carter performed a second autopsy. She declared that Beauchamp had died from the gunshot wounds to his head and ruled the death a homicide. But the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office has refused to reopen the case.
Beauchamp's father, Alfred Beauchamp, remains convinced that his son was murdered and is still trying to interest authorities. Earlier this month, the elder Beauchamp was interviewed at length by investigators from the state Attorney General's Office. He says they vowed to take a close look at the death. (Steve McVicker)
Sunset Heights neighborhood watchdog Jackie Harris exited her Press profile ("It's Jackie's Neighborhood," September 17) with words of warning for bad neighbors at both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum: "They," an increasingly acquisitive Jackie promised, "will go too." Since then, the gentrification of Sunset Heights has proceeded apace, and Jackie's made good on her promise, or at least increased her own personal buffer zone. After purchasing the house and double lot next door to her existing warehouse on its double lot, Jackie exploited a back-tax dispute to wrangle title to the cantina on the other side of her abode, increasing her holdings to a contiguous half a block. When last heard from, she was looking for foreclosable lots around the inner Loop as investment properties. Citizens are hereby alerted to watch their backs. (Brad Tyer)
Disgruntled Clear Lake homeowner and would-be Ryland Homes-slayer John Cobarruvius ("Closing Costs," October 29) reports that he took his Ryland-critical web site down for a week (but only for a week) in observance of Christmas. "I never had any ill will towards these people," he says. "I just wanted my damn house fixed."
In the meantime, Cobarruvius has received a $4,000 settlement in the Masonite class-action suit (which he says is $1,300 less than the cost of his necessary repairs), and the state Attorney General's Office has begun a preliminary investigation of Ryland based on the report co-authored by Cobarruvius and Dallas-area cohort John Winkler. Consumer advocate David Horowitz of FightBack.com has also joined the burgeoning crusade, writing to Ryland's CEO on behalf of Cobarruvius, who has become an in-demand speaker on the neighborhood association meeting circuit. (Brad Tyer)
In mid-November, Mayor Lee Brown and Harris County Judge Bob Eckels announced the formation of a "joint task force" to study taxi dancing by minors ("Partners for Pay," October 22). The chair of the task force will be Mary Jo May, director of El Centro Corazón, who organized opposition to the clubs after hearing tales of taxi dancing from teenage girls in a Center support group. Also in November, City Council tightened the penalties for taxi dancing: An adult who pays to dance with a minor can receive a $500 fine; the club owner can be fined $500 as well, and so can the dancer. May is now campaigning to stiffen the state laws against taxi dancing, elevating it from a Class C misdemeanor to a felony. (Russell Contreras)
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