Former Texas Congressman Steve Stockman faces allegations that he stole some $1.25 million in charitable donations, but he apparently cannot afford a defense lawyer.
The onetime Texas Republican lawmaker told U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson that he had only $17 in his bank account during a Wednesday appearance in federal court, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Stockman, who blamed a “deep state” conspiracy for his arrest and maintains his innocence, is currently being represented by blue-chip law firm Smyser Kaplan & Veselka. According to the Chronicle, he told Johnson he needed to dismiss his trio of hand-picked attorneys and requested that the court re-appoint them to his case at the government’s expense.
Johnson said she would consider it and appointed a court lawyer for him for the time being, according to the Chronicle.
Stockman, who was arrested while attempting to travel to the United Arab Emirates to “help Sunni Muslims,” reportedly told Johnson he cannot work although he was free on bond because his job requires overseas travel. Johnson said Stockman needed to contribute $100 per month to pay legal fees, and that the sum would increase once he found alternate employment, according to the Chronicle.
Legal troubles have plagued Stockman since his March 16 arrest. Asked to obtain counsel by 2 p.m. local time the following day, he said, “I’ll have to hustle with that,” local news station KPRC reported.
“Yeah, you will,” the judge replied, according to KPRC. “These are serious charges.”
Stockman and one of his former congressional aides, Jason Posey, are accused of using hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for charitable organizations to fund Stockman’s congressional campaigns and their own personal expenses. They were hit with a 28-count indictment including federal charges of mail and wire fraud, lying to the Federal Election Commission and money laundering.
Stockman is expected to plead not guilty on all counts in court on Friday.