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Former Texas US representative convicted on 23 felony counts in charity fraud scheme

Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) faces decades in prison after a jury convicted him on 23 felony counts Thursday. Stockman was accused by federal prosecutors of a scheme in which he illegally funneled more than $1 million in donations intended for charities into his own personal and campaign expense accounts. (Chantal Valery/AFP/Getty Images)

Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) was found guilty by a Houston jury on 23 felony fraud charges Thursday.

Stockman was accused by federal prosecutors of a scheme in which he illegally funneled more than $1 million in donations intended for charities into his own personal and campaign expense accounts. The jury returned a not guilty verdict on one of the counts of wire fraud brought by the prosecution, but otherwise found him guilty of all charges.

What's the background?

Stockman, who gained a reputation on Capitol Hill as a conservative firebrand, was initially elected to Congress as part of the 1994 wave of Republican freshmen who campaigned on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's Contract with America.

However, he was narrowly defeated in 1996 by Democrat Nick Lampson. He attempted to run for Congress again in 2006, but was unsuccessful. Stockman ran for Congress again in 2012, this time winning the newly formed 36th Congressional District general election handily.

In 2014, Stockman declined to run for re-election to Congress, instead opting for a primary challenge against incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Stockman finished second in the primary with 19 percent of the vote.

Stockman was arrested in March 2017. The FBI claimed that he had solicited and received $350,000 from unnamed prominent conservative businessmen for a charity called Life Without Limits, which  was ostensibly for the purpose of refurbishing the Freedom House in Washington, D.C.

By the end of their investigation, the FBI claimed to have located $1.25 million that Stockman had solicited under false charitable pretenses and ultimately used to pay either personal or campaign expenses. Two Stockman aides, Jason Posey and Thomas Dodd, were implicated in the scheme and wound up testifying against Stockman after pleading guilty.

Stockman was charged with multiple counts of wire and mail fraud, conspiracy, false statements, money laundering, and filing a false tax return.

At the time of his arrest, Stockman blamed a "deep state" conspiracy and claimed that he was being targeted for having criticized the IRS. Stockman maintains his innocence.

What's next for Stockman?

After the verdict, Stockman was remanded to federal custody, where he will remain pending sentencing, which is currently scheduled in August. The judge will have discretion to sentence Stockman, who is 61, to decades in federal prison. His defense team said Stockman will appeal the verdict.

One last thing…
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