HOUSTON – William-Paul Thomas found himself back in federal court on Friday for a quick hearing over his desire to switch legal counsel.
After speaking with Judge Sam Sheldon for a few minutes, he left court with an understanding to sleep on it over the weekend.
The former right-hand man to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner made it clear to the court that he is speaking with attorneys in Virginia who are “very good at sentencing” and is interested in working with them.
Ryan Patrick is a former U.S. attorney and Harris County judge who was an observer in the courtroom on Friday. After the hearing, he told KPRC 2 Investigates the move was unusual and can only mean a few things.
“It could be that time is finally running out on getting to sentencing and now he is looking for sentencing specialists or he is simply running out of money to pay his current lawyers,” Patrick said.
The hearing was significant because it was the first time Thomas was publicly seen in a federal courtroom since pleading guilty to conspiracy tied to cash bribes in the summer of 2022.
Afterward, Thomas attempted to walk away from our questions, admitting he is uncertain if he will finally be sentenced in December.
Since entering his guilty plea, Thomas has seen his sentencing delayed five times since last fall.
When asked whether or not he was surprised by the situation he was in? Thomas kept his response brief, “I’m not, making any comments because you know I don’t want to talk about that stuff.”
We also asked if he had anything to say to Houstonians after committing criminal acts while a member of Mayor Turner’s inner circle.
“I don’t have any comment about that, Mario. We’ll let this thing play out, we’ll just take the acts of truth and slam it against the tree of circumstances and let the chips fall where they may.”
Thomas is due back in court next week to find out the status of his legal representation as a federal sentencing date looms on the horizon.