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Bribery Time In Sleepy Ol' Hempstead

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Ahh, it’s nice to see that small-town corruption is alive and well. And only an hour’s drive from Houston, no less.

It appears as though a pair of city officials in the Waller County ‘burg of Hempstead, the self-proclaimed “City of Character,” have gone and gotten themselves arrested for allegedly taking good ol’ fashioned bribes and kickbacks from local contractors in exchange for coveted city contracts, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

It feels like a cozy camp-fire tale as old as Texas.

The feds have charged Hempstead Mayor Pro-Tem Larry Wilson, 42, and Alderman Paris J. Kincade, Jr., 53, with conspiring to commit federal programs fraud, a fancy way of saying they allegedly used their position to exact cash from contractors seeking vendor status, thereby making them eligible for city contracts, according to the DOJ.

“They corruptly solicited, demanded, accepted and agreed to accept monies from a contractor,” reads a DOJ news release, “intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with the eventual award of city contracts.”

The Hempstead website says it's “A Community taking the Initiative.”

Bravo, Wilson and Kincade. Way to take the bull by the horns.

In a statement, acting U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson does his best Tom Joad impersonation, vowing, “Wherever public officials violate their oath of office and their public trust, the United States will take swift action to see that they are brought to justice.”

In convicted of all five counts, the two Hempstead officials could face decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. They are expected to appear in federal court today, where bond will most likely be set.

-- Chris Vogel

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