By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
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By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
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Remember a few years ago, when the headlines were ablaze with stories about the scandalous doings at the prominent charity Kid Care?
KTRK's Wayne Dolcefino had a series of exposés, as only Wayne can, highlighting financial shenanigans allegedly done by Kid Care founder Carol Porter and her husband Hurt. Carol had been a guest of both the White House and Oprah Winfrey, so the juicy story took off.
The attorney general announced an investigation and a lawsuit. The district attorney all but said the Porters were guilty. The Internal Revenue Service began examining whether the Porters had lied about their income.
Porter, remember, is the woman who began delivering sandwiches to economically deprived kids from her kitchen. Eventually, thanks to all the publicity, Kid Care grew to a large organization, even though Porter — the heart and soul of it all — was never going to be anyone's idea of a detail-oriented bookkeeper.
Dolcefino outlined some surprising expenses by Kid Care: luxury haircuts, strip-club receipts and the like. The Porters blamed an employee and said they had asked for and never received financial oversight from Kid Care's board.
The last bit of the case has finally wrapped up, and like everything else connected with the story, it's more of a damp fizzle than the fiery explosion implied in the media's initial version of events.
DA Chuck Rosenthal long ago decided to bring no criminal charges from his office; he was on Kid Care's board of directors, and so he left that decision to AG Greg Abbott. Abbott's office loudly announced they were seeking $1.6 million from the Porters; they settled for $495,000 from Kid Care's insurance company. The Porters left Kid Care, but the settlement noted only negligence on their part, not intentional defrauding.
All that was left of the various courtroom activity was the IRS. And now that part of the case has settled also. The bottom line: The Porters — said to be guilty of well over a million dollars' worth of mismanagement — need to pay taxes on a little more than $1,000 worth of income they failed to report.
The IRS also sent the Porters' attorney a letter noting that the agency "acknowledges that in agreeing to these decisions to settle the cases without litigation, the Porters are not agreeing that any improper expenditures were made."
So, five years after Dolcefino first hit the airwaves alleging massive amounts of misconduct, the Porters essentially have been hit with nothing but a damaged reputation.
"It's a scandal — they destroyed an innocent couple's life and a viable children's organization," Carol Porter says. "It was jealousy, lies, racism and politics."
Porter insists she kept great books until she got sick, but frankly it's not hard to believe that she tried to run Kid Care as if it was still housed in her kitchen, as opposed to the multimillion-dollar entity it had become.
Still, little has come of the explosive allegations which, if provable in court, should no doubt have resulted in criminal charges and a high-profile trial. (Stealing money from hungry kids to pay for personal luxuries? What prosecutor wouldn't jump on that?)
Porter is still the same incredibly energized woman she's always been, but now she says she's focused on restoring her good name.
"They expected me to crash and have a nervous breakdown, but they picked the wrong couple," she says.
She still has a suit against Dolcefino — it was dismissed at one point but has been reinstated. She's representing herself, though, so it's not likely to go far.
So maybe this thing will end in fireworks after all. Just not the fireworks everyone expected.
Edgar Guijon is one unlucky dude. So says the 14th Court of Appeals.
Guijon was charged with possessing 5.1 pounds of marijuana (or "marihuana," as Texas courts insist on spelling it, in a Reefer Madness kind of way). He pled guilty to possession of five-to-50 pounds, which got him a sentence of five years with deferred adjudication.
Dude appealed, alleging his lawyer sucked because, in part, he didn't order the dope weighed after taking out the seeds and stems.
In the august words of the 14th Court, Guijon's evidence included a "licensed investigator stating that commercial-grade marihuana often consists of 20 percent seed and stalks by weight."
Twenty percent? That's like buying a Van Halen greatest-hits album and having one-fifth of it turn out to be Gary Cherone songs. That wouldn't fly in anyone's marketplace, except maybe Gary Cherone's.
But Guijon bravely sacrificed his reputation for being a savvy consumer, pleading to the court that he got ripped off, and if they just weighed the thing they could find out how dumb he was (and incidentally, reduce the charge from a third-degree felony to a state-jail felony).
Alas, the 14th Court was having none of it.
"Assuming for argument's sake that the marihuana did contain seeds and stalks, [Guijon] has not produced evidence showing the lab itself did not remove the seeds and stems prior to weighing it," its opinion read. (We envision the lab techs doing so using an old Cheech & Chong album cover.)
The court threw out the appeal.
We hope Guijon found some method of consoling himself. We're guessing he did.
Lights OutFor more than a month now, the city of Houston has been struggling mightily to get the traffic lights downtown coordinated to such a point that they dont constantly ensnarl traffic. It has been a surprisingly drawn-out process. But taking on incredibly, incredibly complex projects takes time, dammit. It's just not as easy as landing on the moon.