Ft. Bend County man accused of bigamy

HOUSTON - A Fort Bend County man has been indicted on bigamy charges, accused of being married to two women at one time.

Patrick Ronald Smith, of Stafford, is charged with a third-degree felony and faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted.

Smith's wife, Toni Smith, lives in Tacoma, Wash. They were first married in 1979, divorced in 1981, and then remarried in 1989. Smith said they legally separated in 2006, but never divorced. She said they have two adult children together and kept in contact, so a call she got from his cell phone in November 2012 wasn't too out of the ordinary. At least, initially.

"A woman asked for my husband. I said, 'He's at work in Texas.' And she didn't answer, she just said, 'Who is this?' And I said, 'This is his wife.' And she said, 'No! This is his wife!'" said Toni Smith.

Court documents show Patrick Smith married another woman in Fort Bend County in 2009. That woman filed for divorce in 2013 and was awarded a portion of Patrick Smith's retirement funds. Toni Smith intervened in the court proceedings, arguing the second marriage was never legal.

According to a petition filed by her attorneys, Toni Smith had already been awarded portions of Patrick Smith's retirement plans by rulings in Washington state in 2006, 2008 and 2012.

Toni Smith said she wanted to warn the public that bigamy still happens and people shouldn't be afraid to report it. She compared the offense to identity theft and fraud.

"It's embarrassing. It's devastating. It's hard on children. But unless these cases are reported, it will continue to happen to families," said Toni Smith.

Patrick Smith's attorney, John Venza Jr., said his client is a law-abiding citizen and they are eager to clear his name.

"This is the only time I've heard of them going after a bigamy case in Fort Bend County. And to go after this 62-year-old man with congestive heart failure, it just really seems like a waste of time and resources," said Venza.

Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey disagreed with Venza's position. Healey said bigamy complaints are rare, but they do prosecute a couple of cases every year.

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