After a trial that lasted weeks, a Travis County jury retired Tuesday evening to begin deliberating the fate of Charles Malouff, who’s accused of falsifying documents to obtain about $2 million of federal stimulus grant money for a wind energy operation in Jonestown that largely never materialized.
Some of that money found its way into Malouff’s pocket to pay for clothes, motorcycle accessories and trips with his girlfriend, an employee with the Texas comptroller’s office who helped him through the grant process, prosecutors said.
In her closing argument, prosecutor Holly Taylor said Malouff gave false or misleading information on the application, including the amount of matching funds Jonestown would provide, the number of turbines to be installed and that the capability of those turbines had been certified by a master electrician. Malouff also failed to disclose that he and Mary Jo Woodall, the comptroller’s office employee, were involved personally and professionally.
“We have her involved in marketing the business, and we have her in a relationship,” Taylor said. “That needed to be disclosed and it was not disclosed.”
Defense attorney Jackie Wood allowed that her client could be “kind of a jerk” but that he was “absolutely sincere” in his intentions. She also pointed the finger at the city of Jonestown for signing off on the application.
“They weren’t even his statements,” Wood said of the information on the grant application. “They were the mayor’s statements. Who lied, if there was a lie? It had to be the city of Jonestown.”
Moreover, Wood said, Malouff, a former law enforcement official, was relying on the expertise of electricians and engineers.
“Everyone told him this would work,” Wood said. “You don’t go to prison in this country for getting in over your head or running a bad business.”
Earlier in the day, Wood unleashed a lengthy and spirited attack on an investigator’s probe leading up to the October 2011 execution of a search warrant and raid at Woodall’s home. She accused lead investigator Lori Carter of the county’s public integrity unit of using dated information, including some from disgruntled former employees of Malouff’s CM Energies, of confusing one member of Woodall’s family for another and of mistaking a motorcycle in Woodall’s garage for one belonging to Malouff.
That investigation culminated in a raid at Woodall’s home, with officers sending a flash grenade through a front window into a bedroom sometimes used by Woodall’s 10-year-old grandson, Wood said. No such devices were used during a search of Malouff’s home.
“Mary Jo Woodall, the grandmother comptroller, is so dangerous you have to bomb her house but not the home of Charles Malouff, is that correct?” Wood asked Carter.
“I didn’t make the risk assessment,” Carter said.
If convicted of securing execution of a document by deception, Malouff could face life in prison. He is serving a two-and-a-half year federal prison term for possession of firearms and destructive devices, including grenades. Wood claimed Malouff’s prior conviction on a weapons charge was the reason he installed his daughter as the company CEO and himself as a consultant.
Under questioning by prosecutor Taylor, Carter said investigators had information that Malouff — a former officer with the Bertram Police Department and the Bosque County Sheriff’s Office — had knowledge of raids during the execution of warrants, might still be in possession of explosives and could be in Woodall’s home at the time of the raid. Carter said the team waited until after a holiday to execute the warrant because of concerns the boy might be visiting over the long weekend.
Text messages between the two just days before indicated the relationship was ongoing and that Malouff had recently spent the night at Woodall’s house.
“If you, in fact, had executed this warrant two days earlier, would you found them in bed?” Taylor asked.
“Yes,” Carter said.
Taylor: “Are you perfect?”
Taylor: “Is it possible you made a few errors?”