Thursday, September 13, 2007

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Texas Inmate Sentenced to 20 Additional Years in Prison for Filing Fraudulent Statements Against Federal Judges

GATESVILLE – A convicted felon serving a 60-year prison sentence in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) was ordered to serve an additional 20 years for filing fraudulent financing statements against two federal judges.

On Wednesday, a Coryell County jury convicted Mycal Antoine Poole of three counts of filing a fraudulent financing statement with intent to harm and defraud another and three counts of retaliation. Due to his prior felony convictions, Poole today received an enhanced 20-year sentence on all six charges, which will run concurrently with each other and consecutively with his current term.

“Filing false financial statements and harassing public officials are crimes that have real consequences in Texas,” said Attorney General Abbott. “A 20-year sentence is fitting punishment for a prisoner who continued to break the law from behind bars. We are grateful to Coryell County District Attorney David Castillo for assisting us with this case.”

The judges targeted by Poole were Sam Sparks, U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Texas, and Andrew Austin, U.S. District Court Magistrate for the Western District of Texas.

According to trial testimony, Poole created false Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings from within the TDCJ unit where he was incarcerated. While incarcerated between 2003 and 2005, Poole mailed the UCC filings to the Secretary of State. These UCC filings falsely indicated that the federal judges owed debts that they in fact did not owe.

Fraudulent debt claims filed against public officials have increased in recent years. The fraudulent claims, whether filed as property liens or UCC financing statements, wrongly name public officials as debtors to harass them or ruin credit records. Witness testimony at Poole’s trial also indicated that he taught fellow inmates how to file false claims against public officials.

Retaliation is a third-degree felony carrying a punishment range of two to 10 years in prison. Fraudulently filing a financing statement with the Texas Secretary of State is a state jail felony that can result in a sentence of up to two years. Because of Poole’s prior criminal history, the charges were increased to second-degree felonies, and Coryell County District Judge Phillip Zeigler imposed the maximum 20-year prison sentence allowed by Texas law.