Skip to main content

Smiling DeLay turns himself in for booking

Rep. Tom DeLay in his Harris County Sheriff's booking photo.


Tom DeLay
Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader who faces conspiracy and money laundering charges, turned himself in Thursday in Houston, one day after an arrest warrant was issued for him.

DeLay walked into the bonding department of the Harris County Sheriff's Office shortly after noon and was fingerprinted, photographed and released after posting $10,000 bond, sheriff's spokeswoman Lisa Martinez said.

DeLay's district office is in Sugar Land, a Houston suburb.

Outside the building, DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin blasted prosecutor Ronnie Earle, accusing him of singling out the Texas Republican for political retribution and planning to use DeLay's mug shot in Democratic mailings.

"He's got what he wanted. There's no reason for this. It was pure retaliation on the part of Ronnie Earle," DeGuerin said, holding up DeLay's mug shot. "There he is. Take a good look at him."

He also said the defense team "will expose his prosecution for what he is."(Watch: Report on DeLay being booked -- 2:03)

In his mug shot, a smiling DeLay is wearing a coat and tie. The photograph doesn't have numbers below his face like many mug shots because the county no longer uses such a system, Martinez said.

The booking happened a day after a state court issued an arrest warrant for him, ahead of his first scheduled court appearance Friday in Austin.

DeLay was indicted October 3 and an arrest warrant was issued Wednesday.

On September 28, a grand jury indicted Delay and associates John Colyandro and Jim Ellis on a conspiracy charge on allegations they steered $190,000 in corporate donations to state legislative candidates in 2002 and disguised the source by sending the money through national Republican campaign committees. Texas law prohibits corporate donations to political campaigns.

DeLay has accused Austin prosecutor Ronnie Earle, the Travis County district attorney, of launching a partisan vendetta against him. He showed his frustration Wednesday, telling CNN, "We all know what this is about. The quicker it's over the better."

There was no immediate official comment from the congressman's lawyers. But in a written statement, Earle's office said, "We believe that Congressman DeLay should be treated like everyone else."

Jeffrey Toobin, senior legal analyst for CNN, said he didn't see the issuance of the arrest warrant necessarily as a personal attack. When a warrant is issued in Texas after an indictment, "it is usually, but not always, a formality," Toobin told CNN's Lou Dobbs.

However, in many white-collar cases, Toobin said, the defense attorney and the prosecutor work out a surrender time for the defendant without a warrant being issued.

"That's kind of the civilized way to do it," he said. But there is nothing civil about the conflict between Earle and DeLay, "And this arrest warrant is further proof of that," Toobin said.

In addition, said Toobin, the fingerprinting and mug shot also will be embarrassing.

DeLay already has subpoenaed Earle, claiming prosecutorial misconduct in the case, and a hearing will be held on the legitimacy of the prosecution. Earle issued a subpoena last week for DeLay's phone records.

Because of his felony indictment, House GOP rules required DeLay to step down as majority leader, the No. 2 position in the House hierarchy. He was replaced by Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri.

After DeLay's defense raised questions about whether the conspiracy charge applied to the state election code back in 2002, Earle went to a second grand jury to instead seek a money-laundering charge against the three.

That grand jury refused to indict DeLay. But a third grand jury returned an indictment October 3, charging DeLay, Colyandro and Ellis with money-laundering and conspiracy.

Before DeLay's indictment on felony charges, according to DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, his client turned down an offer from the Texas prosecutor to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, which would have allowed him to remain as House majority leader.

The offer was revealed Monday in a letter from DeGuerin to Earle among a new batch of motions filed in the case. DeGuerin wrote that both Colyandro and Ellis have told prosecutors that DeLay "played no part in the transactions described in the indictment."

In motions filed Monday, DeGuerin requested a speedy trial and asked that DeLay be tried separately from Colyandro and Ellis because they want to pursue appeals of issues in the case that would delay the proceedings.

DeGuerin also filed motions to quash both of the criminal charges against DeLay on a laundry list of legal grounds.

Among the arguments raised by DeLay's defense was that the charges should have been brought in DeLay's home county rather than in Travis County, which includes the state capital, Austin.

In his letter to Earle, DeGuerin charged that Earle "contrived" to bring the indictment in Travis County because the district attorney in Fort Bend County "would reject the case."

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.

© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines