RICHARDSON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – As CBS11 first reported Wednesday morning, a federal grand jury indicted former Richardson Mayor Laura Jordan (formerly named Laura Maczka) and developer Mark Jordan on multiple charges, including bribery and honest services wire fraud.
Laura Jordan – former Richardson Mayor
Standing before a federal Magistrate Judge in handcuffs, both defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
She faces five counts and he faces four counts.
If convicted, both could face prison sentences and stiff fines, and they may have to forfeit some of their property and other proceeds.
The Jordans were married last summer, but prosecutors say the federal charges filed against them are based on their activities during their previous marriages.
When Mazcka ran for Mayor in early 2013, she campaigned on a platform of being against building apartments near neighborhoods.
But the indictment says later that year, the former Mayor and Jordan secretly communicated about a development project Jordan was working on called the Palisades project.
Court documents show she changed her mind later that year and voted to change the zoning of the land that would eventually allow Jordan’s company to build nearly 11-hundred apartment units right near the neighborhood she lived in — despite the fact that hundreds of residents, including her neighbors who opposed it.
Some residents live across the street from the apartments.
During this time period, prosecutors say they became romantically involved.
The indictment says In exchange for that and other votes approving the apartments, Jordan gave Maczka nearly $60,000 in cash, and took her on $15,000 worth of trips, including to the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, California, and the Montage resort in Laguna Beach, California.
The court documents also show Jordan hired Maczka as a leasing agent and paid her $150,000 a year and gave her a $15,000 signing bonus — and replaced his existing leasing agent who earned a $70,000 a year salary.
The indictment says Jordan also paid more than $24,000 to renovate Maczka’s house by putting in new wood floors, a staircase, carpeting, and fresh paint.
As for the apartments, a city spokesman says Jordan’s company is eligible to receive a 50 percent rebate on real property taxes up to $47 million over a 25-year period.
But the spokesman says the city will still receive near $100 million in real and business personal property taxes during that same time.
As they walked out of the federal courthouse in Plano, the couple declined comment, and their attorney said they wouldn’t be talking.
The indictment says the former mayor “…concealed the things of value she accepted from Jordan by knowingly and willingly omitting them from a Local Government Officer Conflicts Disclosure Statement…”
Prosecutors also say she made false and misleading statements to fellow Richardson City Council members and the IRS.
As CBS11 first reported three years ago this month, the FBI began asking questions and making inquiries into this situation.
Before that happened, the city of Richardson conducted its own ethics investigation but found no wrong-doing.
A statement Wednesday by the city read in part, “…As a non-criminal investigation, the independent investigator did not have subpoena powers and focused solely on alleged violations of specific city and state ethics laws based on the then-available evidence…”
After hearing about the indictment, Richardson resident Jim Mallett said, “It’s not good for the city, and it’s not good for the people involved. What’s important is and what can’t be forgotten is any elected official works for the public and the benefits of their service should go to the public, not to themselves.”
The judge placed travel restrictions on the Jordans, who so far, won’t be allowed to travel to London next month as they originally planned.
The couple have six children between them from their previous marriages.
They are set to appear in court in July.