State Rep. Dukes’ $51k bill for psychic is exhibit in corruption trial


Highlights

19 “extraneous acts” listed in court document prosecutors filed on matters they intend to bring up in her trial.

It is unclear how many of the details in the document relate to the charge that the Austin Democrat faces.

As they prepare for state Rep. Dawnna Dukes’ corruption trial next month, Travis County prosecutors are prepared to present evidence that she showed up to work at the Capitol impaired, hid a cellphone from investigators and spent more than $51,000 on an online psychic.

Those accusations are among 19 “extraneous acts” contained in a court document prosecutors had to file this week to reveal to Dukes’ attorneys matters they intend to bring up in her misdemeanor trial, scheduled for Oct. 16.

It is not clear how many of the details outlined in the court records relate to the charge that Dukes faces. The Austin Democrat is accused of giving a taxpayer-funded raise to a legislative aide to cover gas money for driving Dukes’ daughter to and from school.

Responding to questions from the American-Statesman, District Attorney Margaret Moore released a statement: “Under Texas law, the state is required to give notice to the defendant of any evidence, not arising from the same transaction as that on trial, that the state might attempt to introduce to prove motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.”

Dukes’ attorney, Dane Ball, declined comment.

This filing comes as prosecutors attempt to salvage their felony case against Dukes. The DA’s office last week placed 13 felony charges against Dukes on hold after a Texas House official gave conflicting information about reimbursement vouchers that Dukes is alleged to have falsified for days she did not travel to the Capitol in 2013 and 2014.

According to the filing, Dukes paid an online psychic $51,348 from December 2014 to January 2016, totaling nearly $1,000 per week.

In other “extraneous acts” listed in the filing, prosecutors say Dukes:

• Was absent for roll call 65 percent of the time during the 2017 legislative regular session, and 36 percent of the time in the special session.

• Responded to a search warrant for her cellphone by providing investigators a phone that did not match the identification number on the phone they had requested

• Was noticeably impaired while trying to perform legislative duties at the Capitol and showed up late to a House Appropriations Committee hearing on March 29, stating, “I know I’m talking a lot. I’m full of morphine and will be headed out of here soon.”

• Agreed to a contract with the Austin school district for her company, DM Dukes and Associates, to provide business evaluations but subcontracted the work to a consulting firm. The district paid Dukes $514,224 from May 2015 to March 2016.

• Arrived late to court settings on June 30 and Aug. 21. Judge Brad Urrutia threatened to hold Dukes in contempt if she does it again.

• Failed to submit in a timely fashion both a campaign finance report before the 2016 election and a 2017 personal financial statement. She was fined $1,000.



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