Hempstead mayor, daughter accused of not paying utilities bills totaling $20K
HOUSTON – The Texas Rangers arrested the mayor of Hempstead in Waller County Wednesday after an independent audit of the city's finances revealed inconsistencies that sparked an investigation into possible corruption.
The 57-year-old mayor, Michael Shayne Wolfe is accused of removing names from a list of delinquent utility customers, including his own daughter's name, when they were marked to have their utilities cut off for nonpayment. His name also was removed by a city employee, according to an affidavit filed in court.
Wolfe racked up an unpaid utility bill of $10,560.91 and his daughter had a delinquent account of $9,863.08, according to the affidavit.
KPRC INVESTIGATION: Texas Rangers investigating Waller County town's finances
In Hempstead, residents had until the 20th of each month to pay their utility bills or their utilities would be cut off. Every month, a billing clerk would compile a "cutoff list" and give it to Wolfe, according to the affidavit.
The investigating Ranger wrote that Wolfe admitted that he would highlight names on the list each month and stop them from losing their utilities, despite not paying their bills.
"Mayor Wolfe confessed he removed (his daughter's) name from the cutoff list," the affidavit reads. The audit showed Wolfe's daughter had only made two utility payments of $150 and $100 respectively between December 2016 and March 2019 and Wolfe confessed that he knew this, according to the affidavit.
The investigating Ranger wrote that Wolfe said he "provided these extensions to other City of Hempstead residents and saw no reason to treat his daughter differently."
According to the affidavit, Wolfe's name was removed from the list by the city utility clerk at the time.
"Though Mayor Wolfe did not remove his name from the cutoff list, in an interview with me, he confessed he knew he was "behind" on his bill and was aware that as of 03-21-2019 he owed $10,560.91," the investigating Texas Ranger wrote in the affidavit.
Wolfe has been charged with abuse of official capacity which is a state jail felony. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison and he would be forced to resign from office.
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