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Grand jury probes former mayor’s dealings - The Galveston County Daily News : Local News

November 27, 2014

Grand jury probes former mayor’s dealings

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Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014 8:16 pm

KEMAH — A Galveston County grand jury is investigating property deals made after Hurricane Ike during the tenure of former Kemah Mayor Matt Wiggins, an attorney for Wiggins said Thursday. 

Wiggins, who served as mayor from June 2009 to 2011, and his attorney Paul Doyle said Wiggins had not done anything wrong.

Doyle said he was recently made aware the district attorney’s office was investigating real estate transactions involving his client, but that prosecutors had not explained what criminal allegations, if any, are being pursued.

“We are ready, willing and able to respond to any allegations,” Doyle said. “Just tell us what they are and how they’re criminal.”

First Assistant District Attorney Donna Cameron said she could not comment because of the confidentiality of grand jury proceedings.

Mayor Bob Cummins, who unseated Wiggins in 2011, said both federal and county investigators have interviewed city employees and reviewed documents related to Wiggins’ time in office.

Cummins said a city employee was recently subpoenaed by a grand jury.

“This has been expected,” Cummins said.

Cummins said FBI investigators first descended on City Hall in September to examine records related to real estate deals made after Hurricane Ike.

A federal judge in May dismissed a lawsuit accusing Wiggins of conspiring with city officials to foreclose on businesses damaged by Hurricane Ike to buy the property for “pennies on the dollar.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner ruled in a summary judgment that the lawsuit’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, claims against the former mayor were barred by a statute of limitations.

Wiggins has consistently denied any wrongdoing and filed defamation lawsuits against several Kemah residents over media reports the former mayor abused his power of office to purchase property after the 2008 hurricane.

Doyle said no federal charges were ever filed because “there was nothing to prosecute.”

He said the grand jury investigation was unusual and unfair to Wiggins.

“This is very, very stinky,” he said.