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Hempstead Mayor indicted on felony charge in connection with $10K owed in utility bills

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – After months of investigation, the mayor of Hempstead has been indicted by a Waller County grand jury on a felony charge relating to utility bill payments. Michael Shayne Wolfe, 58, was indicted on one count of theft of service by a public servant which is a third-degree felony.

Prosecutor Warren Diepraam said an audit of city finances in early 2019 triggered an investigation by the Texas Rangers. Diepraam said the audit revealed irregularities in utility payments to the city.

“The allegation, in this case, involves Mayor Wolfe essentially not paying his water and electricity bills to the City of Hempstead to the tune of approximately $10,000,” said Diepraam. “In addition, his daughter owed roughly $10,000 dollars as well, he ensured her accounts were zeroed out as well.”

Diepraam said Wolfe used his position to keep his and his daughter’s utilities from being cut, despite not paying their bills for months.

“The Mayor would go to a clerk and tell the clerk, ‘I’m not going to pay my bill, just zero it out,’ and that’s exactly what she did," Diepraam said.

In October, the city’s utility billing clerk, Audrey Zientek was also charged in connection with the unpaid bills.

KPRC 2 left messages for Wolfe at City Hall and at a house listed as his home address but the mayor has not responded as of 6:45 p.m. Friday. Last year, Wolfe told KPRC 2 he would not resign as mayor and had reimbursed the city for the delinquent payments.

Diepraam said Friday’s indictment is not the end of the investigation and the grand jury panel reviewing evidence, has been extended to continue its’ work.

“They’ve been held over for an additional 90 days to consider additional defendants and additional charges,” said Diepraam.