This has been so long in coming I was beginning to wonder if it would ever arrive.
Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Eversole pleaded not guilty to federal bribery and income tax charges today.
Eversole is charged with accepting a bribe from developer and former Harris County facilities director Mike Surface. Details of the alleged bribe were not immediately available.
The indictments were handed down Monday, but only were unsealed in Johnson’s courtroom today.
“This is the federal government criminalizing a 30-year friendship,” Surface defense attorney Chip Lewis said outside the federal courthouse before the hearing.
Asked earlier today if his client would turn himself in to authorities, Eversole’s defense attorney Rusty Hardin replied, “He’s going to do whatever the government asks him to do, except admit he committed a crime, which he hasn’t committed.”
Surface already was under federal indictment on conspiracy charges, accused along with his business partner, Andrew Schatte, of giving gifts to Monique McGilbra, former director of the city’s Building Services Department to win contracts to build the city’s $53 million 911 call center and a $20 million fire station. McGilbra pleaded guilty and is cooperating with federal prosecutors, who allege Schatte and Surface gave her gifts including the use of a condo in California, $1,000, and a $40,000 consultant job for her boyfriend.
Eversole spoke about a looming federal indictment two years ago, though there were signs of it nearly a year earlier than that. Mike Surface was ousted from his position almost exactly three years ago, but wasn’t indicted till later. Several people were openly looking at Eversole’s seat on the Court, on the assumption that he’d quietly ride off into the sunset and await that knock on the door, when he surprisingly announced a re-election bid, which chased them all off. The assumption then had been that he’d resign after being re-elected so a successor could be appointed and given a good head start on fundraising before needing to run for the seat. I guess that part is still operative. Maybe he can bunk with Tom DeLay in the pokey. John and Juanita have more.
UPDATE: John has a timeline of Eversole’s misdeeds.