White Collar Crime

Law Firm to Pay $4.1M to Settle Suit Over Ex-Partner's Alleged Activities

A day after a Texas grand jury indicted one of its former lawyers, Austin-based Clark Thomas & Winters agreed to pay Pedernales Electric Cooperative $4.1 million to settle a suit that alleged improper payments to relatives of former cooperative officials.

Earlier this week, Blanco County grand jurors indicted the lawyer, Walter Demond, and former PEC general manager Bennie Fuelberg, the San Marcos Mercury reports.

In a statement to the publication, Clark Thomas said, “The attorney who authorized the payments to outside consultants resigned at the request of the firm earlier this year. When Clark, Thomas & Winters’ management became aware in December of 2008 of the details of the payments to outside consultants and PEC’s reimbursement of some of those payments, it promptly notified both PEC management and the Office of the Attorney General. The firm has cooperated fully with subsequent investigations by both.”

The settlement and indictments come after a years-long investigation by news media and Texas law enforcement.

Demond, who represented PEC, is accused with Fuelberg of misapplication of fiduciary property in excess of $200,000; theft of property in excess of $200,000; and money laundering between $100,000 and $200,000, according to press reports.

In dozens of articles, the Austin American-Statesman, has documented what it characterizes as “lavish executive paychecks and spending, lax oversight by a highly paid board and questionable dealings.”

Gerry Morris, Demond’s lawyer, responded to the allegations by saying that “anyone who thinks Walter Demond committed theft doesn’t know Walter Demond.”

Also see:

Brenham Banner-Press: “Judge rules money in account is Texland’s”

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