Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s criminal trial on securities fraud charges will begin May 1.
The order by state District Judge George Gallagher also set aside four days for jury selection to begin April 20 in Collin County.
Paxton’s trial will come just as the Texas Legislature begins its frantic final month and shortly before politicians turn their attention to the 2018 primary elections. Paxton recently announced that he will enter primary season with almost $4.6 million in his campaign account after raising about $2.7 million in 2016 — a signal to potential Republican challengers that he will be a formidable foe if he were to emerge from trial with a not guilty verdict.
Paxton has been charged with two counts of securities fraud, first-degree felonies that carry a maximum punishment of 99 years in prison, accusing him of approaching investors in 2011 to tout Servergy Inc. without revealing to potential investors that the McKinney tech company was paying him to push its stock.
He also was charged with failing to register with state securities regulators, a third-degree felony.
“We’re delighted that the matter is set for trial,” defense lawyer Dan Cogdell said. “We’re anxious to begin trial and we’re confident that the right result will happen and Ken will be acquitted.”
Cogdell said defense lawyers and prosecutors estimate the trial will take two to three weeks.
Paxton’s trial will begin almost 21 months after indictments from a Collin County grand jury were unveiled and he was arrested, fingerprinted and released on bond.
Defense lawyers concentrated efforts on getting the charges dismissed before trial, but Gallagher and two appeals courts rejected those efforts.
Paxton also has been accused of fraud in the same business deals by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A federal judge tossed out the SEC complaint in October, saying the agency’s allegations weren’t recognized under federal securities law, but the SEC amended and refiled its complaint.
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III has not yet ruled on Paxton’s request to dismiss the amended civil complaint, which sought fines and an order for Paxton to repay “ill-gotten gains” from the Servergy deals.