Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bowling for Justice in Fort Bend County

What passes for justice here in still Republican-dominated Fort Bend County surely would make the justice system in any given banana republic look like a shining example of jurisprudence. Witness a case being heard here by a visiting judge. A case that just concluded yesterday.

Taxpayers are paying for the trial of one Joey Sula who, it is alleged, conned a weak and vulnerable woman out of 500 large. That’s half a million bucks to those of you who don’t watch gangster movies. The poor, weak and vulnerable Fort Bend woman who he bilked? That would be Karen Pearson, owner of “Winning Edge Consultants” a political consulting firm that oversees the campaigns of several Republican Fort Bend County office holders.

The poor, weak, vulnerable woman who has, as a partner in her firm, former Fort Bend County Republican Party chairman Gary Gillen.

According to testimony given last week, and reported at the Fort Bend Herald, Pearson was approached by Joey Sula while she was sitting at a high roller table in a Louisiana casino, and established a relationship with her while she was “vulnerable because she had divorced, both her grandmothers had died and her father died all in that time period. Sula, she said, made her laugh and had the right words.”

Pearson claims that there was no monkey business between the two, just money business.

Money business where Pearson gave Sula, in several transactions, $500,000.

That happens all the time you know. Complete strangers approach me in supermarkets, at the gas pump, and in casinos while I am gambling away the deed to my house, and ask me for hundreds of thousands of dollars. If they make me laugh, I pony up.

When Pearson finally smelled a rodent she did what everyone would do. She got her personal friend and client’s husband, Fort Bend County Assistant DA Mike Elliott, to arrest him.

And what are friends for, anyway? She knew that Elliott was up to helping out, having seen the fruits of his past labors in prosecuting a bunch of roofers who had the umbrage to go into business and compete with their former boss, personal friend, and contributor to the campaign of Annie Elliott, the wife of Mike Elliott, the client of Karen Pearson.

Now what I didn’t know until today, again courtesy of the Fort Bend Herald, is that last year, Sula, through his attorney, had tried to negotiate a formal agreement to pay back all of the money that Pearson had loaned to him. His attorney, Richard Raymond, negotiated with Pearson’s attorney, Mike Elliott. Yes, the same Mike Elliott who had Sula arrested.

The trial is being held in the 400th District Court of Cliff Vacek. Vacek, however, is not hearing the case. The case is being heard by a visiting judge, Judge W.G. “Dub” Woods. Vacek, another client of Karen Pearson, recused himself from the case.

Now here is a frightening thought. What we learn here is what we gather from hearings in open court, where transparency is the rule and not the exception. Think of what must be lurking there behind closed doors in the opacity that is Fort Bend County government.

Lurking there, below the waves as it were. The frightening thought is that what we can see out there in the public record is just the tip of the iceberg.


Anonymous said...

Court records even show that a 10 year friend of the plaintiff was caught sitting amongst potential jurors (uninvited) before or during jury selection. This was made known to the judge during a call for mistrial (because of the jury tampering), but the judge, due to either senility or corruption, rejected the motion.

Anonymous said...

The charges against Sula were at times listed as 1 - theft, 2 - theft, but at other times they were listed as 1 - theft, 2 - money laundering.

He was found guilty of theft and money laundering, even though the plaintiff and her attorney/the DA called the money a loan. There was no evidence presented to support the claim of money laundering, but despite this there was a conviction given.

The jury was given over 500 pages of "evidence" by the prosecution, and around 250 pages of evidence by the defense. They were instructed to review the evidence while making their decision that Friday afternoon. Somehow though, after 1 hour of deliberation, they returned to give their verdicts of guilty guilty.

When the judge informed the jury that they would have to return Monday for sentencing, the look of surprise and disappointment was clear on their faces - the jury clearly thought they had chosen the most expedient decision that would enable them to get out and be done with this trial.

Anonymous said...

Who is the defense attorney in this case half? Just curious.

Hal said...

The Herald article lists one Larry Vick as Sula's attorney. But the only Larry Vick attorney I could find in the area was one who specializes in bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Hal.

Anonymous said...

Wow, good thing I didn't have any money when I dated this guy over 10 years ago... Not that he'd have gotten any if I'd had it.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Try TDCJ - Huntsville, I hear now he is stationed a little closer to Lousiana, maybe he like to gamble when he was a free man? Maybe with other peoples money?

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