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Driver to take a plea

Whoa.

State Rep. Joe Driver, who candidly acknowledged pocketing taxpayer reimbursements for travel paid by his campaign, will enter a guilty plea on abuse-of-office charges, a third-degree felony, a top prosecutor said Tuesday night.

“He is going to plea to the third degree felony,” said Assistant Travis County District Attorney Gregg Cox, head of the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. “It is a plea of guilt.”

Driver did not return a phone message requesting comment.

Fox 4 News in Dallas first reported the filing of the charges on Tuesday.

Driver recently announced he was leaving the Legislature at the end of his current term. Last year, Driver acknowledged that for years he had been submitting identical receipts, for airfare, fancy hotels and other expenses, to his campaign and to the Texas House of Representatives.

[…]

Cox said Driver had made arrangement to enter a plea on a charge of “abuse of official capacity,” a third-degree felony. The value affixed to the misuse of office was estimated at between $20,000 and $100,000. A third degree felony is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of between two and ten years.

Cox said Driver would be eligible to serve probation on anywhere between two to ten years. Cox said he was happy with the way the issue had been resolved.

“You’ve got an elected official pleading guilty to a third degree felony,” Cox said. “I think that’s going to be a pretty good outcome.”

For the prosecutors, maybe. For Driver, maybe not so much. Driver had been paired with freshman Rep. Cindy Burkett, so his departure does not open up a seat, though with an interim legislative map on the way, who knows what we’ll wind up with. Either way, good riddance.

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