Jerry Eversole sentenced to three years probation
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Jerry Eversole served as a Harris County commissioner for more than 20 years, but all of that ended after he was accused of exchanging political favors for gifts from a developer who worked with the county.
Eversole was ultimately convicted of lying to the FBI, but on Wednesday he was given only probation.
The former Precinct 4 commissioner paid $75,000 in fines for abusing his campaign fund, did not tell the truth to taxpayers about his gifts and lied to the FBI. Eversole could have been going to prison, but he's not.
"Well, the judge said that both Surface and Eversole got a good deal, I think because of the fact that he had never been convicted of a crime, his wife's health, that he had resigned from office," said 13 Undercover investigator Wayne Dolcefino. "It's within the sentencing guidelines and Rusty Hardin may have said what may have been the federal government's biggest problem. He said, 'It was outrageous to try to incarcerate that you didn't have the guts to take to trial and get a conviction on.'"
Eversole stepped down in September of last year, and took a plea deal that means he cannot hold public office for 10 years.
"I miss my job, yes," said Eversole outside federal court.
Jerry Eversole resigned in disgrace, spent a million in campaign money fighting the feds and Wednesday morning had to face the music before a federal judge for lying to the FBI.
"He's a convicted felon. The court has to send an appropriate message," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.
The government wanted jail time -- up to three years. Even our legal analyst expected some, but the judge gave the commissioner three years probation instead.
"We always said we would try 'til cows came home any case that suggested Jerry Eversole did anything wrong in performance of his duties," said Eversole's attorney, Rusty Hardin.
But the commissioner accepted tens of thousands of dollars in gifts from a developer who made a lot of money off county real estate deals. Eversole never disclosed them to taxpayers. Friends just helping friends, his lawyer argued.
"Once the federal government gets its clutches in you it will extract a terrible toll," said Chip Lewis, Surface's lawyer.
The FBI spent 10 years investigating developer Michael Surface, saying he liked to buy public officials. He, too, got three years probation.
For his part, Surface told the judge he made 'a major error in judgment' and for that he said, "I am deeply sorry." As a condition of the deal, he cannot enter into county contracts for five years.
And the commissioner had a final word for the 13 Undercover investigation that started his troubles four years ago.
When Wayne Dolcefino asked Eversole if he had any comment, he replied, "Yea, I got one for you, but that's OK, we'll skip it."
Stay with abc13.com and Eyewitness News for the very latest on the Eversole case.
local, wayne dolcefino
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