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Texas AG Paxton settles felony fraud investigation, avoiding trial and ending yearslong legal saga

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday struck a deal with prosecutors investigating him for felony securities fraud, closing a legal saga that has dogged the state’s top law-enforcement officer and close ally of former President Donald Trump for nearly a decade.

Special prosecutor Brian Wice confirmed the case was settled in a phone call with CNN on Tuesday. He said in an emailed statement the terms included nearly $300,000 in restitution for the victims, 100 hours of community service and 15 hours in ethics courses.

“This agreement may not be perfect but it ensures that while justice was certainly delayed, it most certainly was not denied to the victims, the defendant, and the people of the State of Texas,” Wice said in a statement.

The settlement comes just weeks before an April 15 trial date in the case. Paxton’s attorney Dan Cogdell said after the hearing that the case will be dismissed in 18 months if Paxton fulfills his obligations.

The allegations against Paxton stemmed from his time in the Texas state legislature, when he was accused of convincing investors to fund a tech startup without disclosing he would be paid to recruit them.

A grand jury indicted Paxton on two counts of securities fraud and one count of failing to register with state securities regulators in July 2015, months after he was sworn in as attorney general. A trial has been delayed for years by various conflicts over venue and attorneys’ fees.

In a statement on Tuesday, Paxton said he was the victim of “political persecution” and was “relieved to finally have a resolution in this matter.”

“There will never be a conviction in this case nor am I guilty,” Paxton said, adding that dealing with the case “was no easy task.”

“I look forward to putting this behind me,” he said.

Wice told reporters after the hearing that the terms of the settlement amounted to a just conclusion to the case.

“Look, you know, I’m not going to concern myself an iota as to who wins,” Wice said.

But while the securities-fraud investigation appears to have ended – Paxton could still face a jury if the terms of the settlement are not met – the case was just one of a series of legal headaches that has dogged the conservative firebrand in recent years.

He was impeached and suspended from office on allegations of corruption last May in the Republican-controlled Texas House, though a September trial in the Texas Senate acquitted him.

He remains under federal investigation on those same corruption allegations.

Trump has targeted Republicans in the Texas House who voted to impeach Paxton. Paxton was one of the highest-profile and last-remaining defenders of Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

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