Home » The businessman at the center of Ken Paxton’s impeachment charged with new federal crimes

The businessman at the center of Ken Paxton’s impeachment charged with new federal crimes

By Zach Despart 

The Texas Tribune

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Nate Paul, the Austin real estate investor whose relationship with Attorney General Ken Paxton was central to his September impeachment trial, was charged with new crimes by federal prosecutors on Wednesday.

The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas filed an amended indictment charging Paul, 36, with four counts of wire fraud related to allegations that he lied to business partners who invested in real estate with his company, World Class Holdings, and its affiliates.

They are in addition to the eight felony counts prosecutors filed in June, which allege that Paul provided false information to financial institutions in order to obtain loans to purchase properties.

Paul’s attorney, David Gerger, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Paul’s trial is scheduled for July of 2024.

Neither of the indictments mention Paxton, who was acquitted by the Texas Senate of 16 articles of impeachment in September.

Paul and Paxton met sometime before 2020, though the origins of their friendship remain unclear. Seven former senior aides to Paxton reported the attorney general to the FBI in September 2020, concerned that his friendship with Paul included corruption and bribery.

They alleged that Paxton abused his office by helping Paul investigate and harass business rivals, delay foreclosure sales of his properties and procure confidential records on the police investigating him.

During this time, Paul’s business empire — which he once told a reporter was worth $1 billion — was faltering. In 2020 alone, 18 of Paul’s properties filed for bankruptcy.

The claims of the whistleblowers, who either quit within weeks of their report or were fired by Paxton, became the basis of the Texas House’s vote in May to impeach Paxton. The House members leading investigation argued that in return for those favors, Paul paid to renovate Paxton’s home and helped him pursue and cover up an extramarital affair with a former Senate staffer.

During the impeachment trial, whistleblowers testified they believed Paul to be a criminal and were concerned that Paxton was essentially turning the keys of the office over to him.

In the new filing, prosecutors said Paul repeatedly misled partners about how he was using partnership funds, a deception furthered by overstating the balances of partnership accounts.

“During his career in commercial real estate, Paul has repeatedly engaged in deception to persuade individuals and organizations to entrust money to him, and he has used the money to enrich himself and expand the commercial real estate businesses that he controls,” the indictment states.

The indictment lists six businesses as victims; three in Texas and one each in Florida, Colorado and North Carolina. The government is seeking to seize $172 million and any properties connected to Paul’s alleged criminal conduct.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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November 2023