Harris County DA's Office drops barratry case against TX Rep. Ron Reynolds
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Dozens of cases are in jeopardy because of problems with two Harris County District Attorney's Office investigators. Wednesday morning, the first case connected to the scandal was dismissed when prosecutors dropped barratry charges against State Representative Ronald Reynolds.
The DA's office admits this dismissal is just the beginning. As many as 50 cases currently under investigation will need to be reviewed, and a total of 120 charges that former investigator Lonnie Blevins played a role in investigating that could be tainted.
Representative Reynolds' attorney took his place in court Wednesday as Reynolds himself was on the floor of the state legislature. The DA's office dropped the charges against Reynolds off-docket as well as charges of barratry against two other people linked to the investigation.
The DA's office says it had to toss out all the evidence collected by the two investigators, and there won't be enough evidence left to convict Reynolds on the barratry charge filed against him last year, according to Sara Kinney with the Harris County DA's Office.
Barratry charges are brought against people who file frivolous lawsuits, what are commonly referred to as ambulance chasers. Reynolds is an attorney, and his lawyer says his client was briefly involved in a lawsuit against a local doctor.
Lonnie Blevins played a key role in the barratry investigation into Reynolds, and dozens of other investigations.
"I think they have a duty to redo those cases. I've already received notices on other cases in white collar crimes where they've given me notice that Lonnie Blevins is involved," said Jules Laird, attorney for Reynolds.
Blevins faces federal charges for allegedly stealing high-end comic books that were evidence in a fraud investigation involving a former Houston attorney that Blevins was involved in. He left the DA's office in December of last year, and was working for the Bexar County district attorney until he recently resigned.
The DA's office says Reynolds' case is the first of many which will be need to be dismissed.
"The evidence that made the case is not credible anymore. It's unfortunate, but it is our due diligence to go through this process," Kinney said. "We are really trying to make a bad situation that we inherited right, and make sure that it doesn't happen again."
Reynolds, who is a managing partner at Brown, Brown, and Reynolds in Bellaire, was arrested last year and charged with barratry. The term is when attorneys approach people, asking to represent them, possibly paying or harassing them.
Eyewitness News attempted to speak with Reynolds at his home Tuesday night, but no one answered the door. We're told he is out of town.
However, Reynold's attorney, Vivian King, issued the following statement late Tuesday:
"Ron Reynolds and his family are relieved that this nightmare will be over tomorrow. We thank the District Attorney and his office for a swift investigation and conclusion to this matter."
The DA's office says it is trying to reinvestigate some of the cases and it will continue to pursue the ones that still have enough evidence remaining to convict the suspects. But cases where the two investigators controlled enough of the evidence needed to make or break the case will have to be dismissed.
A spokesperson for the Harris Co. DA's Office told us the office's credibility took a big hit with the Blevins investigation. All of the cases in question, she says, will be diligently reviewed.
Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest details on this story.
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