Houston Water Line Corruption Scandal: Key Players Charged in Multimillion-Dollar Fraud (video)

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Several defendants have been charged in a widespread corruption scandal involving Houston’s water line repair contracts, uncovered by KPRC 2’s DRAINED investigation. The scandal, which has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, centers around fraudulent activities and bribery within the city’s water department.

First Court Appearances

Investigative reporter Amy Davis, who first exposed the shady repair contracts last November, was in court today to follow the developments. The Harris County Criminal Courthouse saw significant activity as several defendants appeared for the first time to pay their bond.

Daniel Hurts: Identified as a key player in the corruption scheme, Hurts is accused of using multiple aliases, including Rachael Taylor, to collect payments from fraudulent consulting businesses and city contractors. Prosecutors allege that Hurts was essentially triple-dipping, collecting payments without performing any real work. Charged with bribery and abuse of official capacity, Hurts remained silent in court, visibly shaken by the gravity of the charges.

Frank Perkins: The owner of CST Connections, Perkins allegedly received over $349,000 from the city of Houston, subsequently paying $28,000 to Patrice Lee, a former Houston Water Department maintenance manager and central figure in the scandal. Court records reveal that Lee approached Perkins and requested the money. Outside the courthouse, Perkins’ attorney maintained his innocence, stating that Perkins is a reputable businessman and intends to vigorously defend against the allegations.

Joseph Neary: Representing Miry Construction, Neary is charged with bribery, with court records showing he paid Lee more than $77,000. His contracts with the city notably increased from less than a million dollars to over $8 million during this period. Neary’s attorney also emphasized their intention to robustly contest the charges.

Central Figure: Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee, the former Houston Water Department maintenance manager, remains in jail and did not appear in court. Her new attorney, Jay Diedrich, briefly met with her and highlighted Lee’s challenging personal circumstances, including caring for a child with special needs. Diedrich plans to use medical records to argue for a reduction of Lee’s $460,000 bond to facilitate her release. Notably, Lee’s brother, also charged in the scandal, failed to show up in court, and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Ongoing Investigation

Despite the current charges, the Harris County District Attorney’s office continues to investigate the scandal, suggesting that more individuals could be implicated. They are actively seeking tips and information from the public to aid in their investigation.

This unfolding scandal reveals the depths of corruption within Houston’s water department and underscores the need for stringent oversight and accountability in public sector contracts. For more details and updates on this case, stay tuned to KPRC 2 News.

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