Hempstead mayor says he won't resign after felony arrest

HEAMPSTEAD, Texas – Hempstead’s mayor said he won’t resign and the first City Council meeting since his felony arrest was rescheduled Monday night.

Why was the meeting rescheduled?

What is usually a mostly-empty Hempstead City Council meeting was overcrowded Monday night. Many did not fit into the room. 

City officials said some residents would have to get out of the room, or the meeting would have to be rescheduled. 

Ultimately, it was rescheduled to a larger venue nearby next Monday. 

Why was the mayor arrested?

The Texas Rangers arrested the mayor of Hempstead on Wednesday after a six-month investigation that began after an independent audit of the city's finances revealed inconsistencies. 

The 57-year-old mayor, Michael Shayne Wolfe, is charged with one felony count of abuse of official capacity. If convicted, he could face up to two years in prison. 

What are the specific allegations?

Wolfe is accused of removing residents' names from a list of delinquent utility customers, including his daughter, when they were marked to have their utilities cut off for nonpayment. 

Wolfe was also aware that his name was removed by a city employee, according to an affidavit filed in court.

Together, Wolfe and his daughter owed the city $20,423.99, the affidavit said. 

How does the mayor respond?

“We’re not commenting on anything pertaining to any allegations,” Wolfe told KPRC on Monday. 

He said he has since paid the outstanding utility bills. He also said he will not resign. 

What do residents say?

Many residents still support the mayor, who is serving his seventh term in his 15th year in the city of about 6,000 people.

"I don’t believe the charges. He’s a good man," George Jacobs said.

“I think he’s guilty of loving us too much,” one woman said.

However, many residents also told KPRC they believe Wolfe should resign.

“He stole from the city, and he admitted it to the Texas Rangers,” Marianne Drawl said. “He should step down.”

“He did the wrong thing,” Grances Rodzen said. “It’s that simple.”

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