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Former Houston Employee Charged in Corruption Scheme with City Waterline (Video)

Introduction

A public works maintenance manager in Houston, along with four vendors, faces charges in a public corruption bribery scheme. A total of 14 felony charges have been filed against seven defendants.

Background

In August 2020, 45-year-old Patrice Lee was promoted to public works maintenance manager, gaining access to an $80 million emergency fund for waterline breaks and inspections.

Scheme Details

In the summer and fall of 2022, Patrice Lee and at least two businessmen devised a scheme to place her on the payroll as a consultant for companies doing business with her department at the city. In exchange for a so-called consulting fee, vendors received favorable treatment, faster payment, and bigger deals with the city.

Expansion of Scheme

Lee later involved two more defendants in a similar scheme. Additionally, she and her brother, Andrew Travis Thomas, formed a shell company to divert funds.

Defendants

The defendants include:

  • Patrice Lee, former public works maintenance manager.
  • Andrew Travis Thomas, Lee’s brother.
  • Danielle Hertz, a former City Public Works employee.
  • Owners of four businesses that received contracts through Lee’s influence.

Impact

The same individuals handled repairs, inspections, and contract deliveries, bypassing normal procedures. This has contributed to Houston’s financial budget shortfall, raising concerns about the integrity of the city’s spending.

Ongoing Investigation

The investigation is ongoing, and more arrests and charges may be filed. Authorities urge anyone with information to contact the Texas Rangers at 281-517-1400.

Conclusion

The alleged corruption scheme has highlighted significant issues in the management of city funds, prompting a continued investigation to ensure accountability and proper use of taxpayer dollars.

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