Lawsuit claims inappropriate contact was made by convicted city director during Hobby concessions contract process

Attorney says call at center of the newly filed civil lawsuit should have been revealed in the federal conspiracy case involving former Houston City Council Relations Director William-Paul Thomas.

HOUSTON – The food fight at Hobby between the Pappas family and the city of Houston is headed to a Harris County courtroom.

The lawsuit filed by the Pappas family on Tuesday has many talking and considering there are allegations that the city of Houston violated state law and city code during the recent awarding of a concessions contract. The process lasted for several years and required three rounds.

Many in and out of city hall are talking because the claims involve a name familiar to Houstonians, former Director of City Council Relations William-Paul Thomas. Thomas was convicted last summer in federal court of conspiracy tied to cash bribes. The admission of guilt by the longtime advisor to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner caught city hall by surprise as Thomas is still awaiting federal sentencing in that case.

In the lawsuit, Pappas states there was inappropriate contact by the mayor’s office during what was a designated “no contact period” in the bidding process.

The Pappas family pointed to a voicemail allegedly left by William-Paul Thomas in November of 2019 to Chris Pappas saying, “Oh, Mr. Pappas, this is William-Paul Thomas, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office. I wanted to visit with you regarding the upcoming airport concession at Hobby Airport. I had a great meeting with a couple of folks and I’m going to share with you some of the thoughts that we had going forward. Please give me a call at your convenience,” the lawsuit states. This is what they view as a violation of state law and city code.

The attorney representing the Pappas family says his client did not return the call.

Michael Wynne, a former federal prosecutor based in Houston, told KPRC 2 Investigates that if Thomas did not mention this call to the feds, he could be facing additional charges, including the potential of perjury.

“Anyone cooperating with the federal government who is being interviewed, including by the FBI in particular, has an obligation to disclose any and all information they may have about any suspicious or criminal conduct,” said Wynne. “There is no exception.”

KPRC 2 Investigates did reach out to the mayor’s office and Thomas’s criminal defense attorney regarding the claims made involving Thomas, but neither party did get back to us.

Both sides are expected back in court on Thursday morning for a hearing focused on a Temporary Restraining Order on the new contract.


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Journalistic bulldog focused on accountability and how government is spending your dollars. Husband to Wonder Woman, father to a pitcher and two Cavapoos. Prefers queso over salsa.