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DeLay faces Texas judge

Texas Republican booked on state conspiracy, money-laundering charges

Rep. Tom DeLay in his Harris County Sheriff's Office mug shot.


Tom DeLay
Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader who faces Texas conspiracy and money-laundering charges, faced a judge in Austin on Friday, a day after he turned himself in to a Houston-area sheriff.

DeLay walked into the bonding department of the Harris County Sheriff's Office shortly early Thursday afternoon and was fingerprinted, photographed and released after posting $10,000 bail, sheriff's spokeswoman Lisa Martinez said. The charges are related to alleged violations of Texas campaign-financing law.

DeLay avoided a group of reporters who waited at the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office, where they had expected him to surrender.

The congressman represents the Houston suburb of Sugar Land in Fort Bend County.

Outside the Harris County building, DeLay lawyer Dick DeGuerin blasted prosecutor and Travis County district attorney Ronnie Earle, accusing him of singling out DeLay for political retribution and planning to use his 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 a written statement, Earle's office said, "We believe that Congressman DeLay should be treated like everyone else."

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

DeLay was booked a day after a state court issued an arrest warrant for him on Wednesday, ahead of his first scheduled court appearance Friday in Austin.

A grand jury indicted DeLay and his associates John Colyandro and Jim Ellis on conspiracy and money-laundering charges on October 3. They had been indicted on September 28 on charges related to conspiring to violate Texas campaign financing law.

They are suspected of steering $190,000 in corporate donations to state legislative candidates in 2002 and disguising the source by sending the money through national Republican campaign committees. Texas law prohibits corporate donations to political campaigns.

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 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 attorney DeGuerin, DeLay 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 appeals of issues in the case will 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.

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