Former BISD electrical contractor gets Jefferson County court date

Former BISD electrical contractor gets Jefferson County court date

Former Beaumont ISD electrical contractor Calvin Walker will be required to face state prosecution alleging he defrauded the school district and the city of Port Arthur, according to a ruling by the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS), as the court’s justices this week refused to entertain pleadings by Walker and his legal counsel that the cases pending against the defendant should be quashed before ever being heard by a jury of his peers. Walker is set to appear before Jefferson County Criminal District Court Judge John Stevens on June 5. If convicted of the charges levied against him, Walker faces up to life in prison on each charge due to the amount of fraud being in excess of $200,000.

Walker and counsel, Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin and Stanford Law rep Jeffrey Fisher, argued to SCOTUS in pre-hearing briefs that Walker’s prosecution is tantamount to “double jeopardy,” basically meaning that he is being tried twice for the same crime, because he faced similar federal charges in 2011-2012. After a trial on the 37-count federal indictment (that included allegations of wire fraud, money laundering, and fraud on programs receiving federal funding) ended in a hung jury, Walker escaped a second trial by entering a guilty plea to an unindicted misdemeanor.

In July 2014, Walker was subsequently indicted on four state felony charges of securing execution of a document by deception and two felony charges of money laundering.  According to the indictments, from Dec. 23, 2008, through Sept. 10, 2009, Walker, who owns and manages Walker’s Electric alongside his wife Stacy, submitted fraudulent invoices to both BISD and the city of Port Arthur to receive payments he was not due.

“The fraudulent invoices resulted in Walker being compensated for labor, materials, and other expenses which were never incurred concerning his work as a contractor on various projects (at BISD and in Port Arthur),” information from the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office stated upon indictment. Former Judge Cory Crenshaw, who was Jefferson County’s Criminal District Attorney in 2014, refuted Walker’s defense assertions of double jeopardy at that time by stating that, “Case law and Supreme Court precedent allow individuals to be charged in both state and federal court when their conduct violates the laws of both sovereigns. No prior state court in Texas has adjudicated Mr. Walker on the conduct alleged in the indictments returned against him (July 29, 2014), therefore, double jeopardy simply does not apply.” Both the trial court judge and a subsequent 9th Court of Appeals agreed with Crenshaw’s assertions, and the Court of Criminal Appeals elected not to hear Walker’s claims of improper prosecution at all.

On behalf of the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller went a step further in his March 2017 assertions to SCOTUS, arguing that, since the earlier federal indictments were never fully litigated, a reasonably astute attorney could easily decipher that Walker therefore cannot be prosecuted “a second time” for a crime he was never prosecuted for the first time.

A conference of SCOTUS justices convening Friday, April 21, sans Neil Gorsuch, declined to intercede on Walker’s behalf and remanded the case back to Jefferson County for trial.

Although no longer in the DA’s office, Crenshaw is mum on the specifics of the case but did offer his opinion of Walker’s SCOTUS claims.

“The illusion created by DeGuerin that Walker is somehow the victim of double jeopardy is as flawed as Walker’s BISD invoices,” he said. “Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t fall for this trick and hopefully a Jefferson County jury will finally put Calvin Walker where he belongs – behind bars.”