A federal jury in Sherman found former Richardson Mayor Laura Jordan guilty of corruption-related crimes Thursday afternoon. Jordan accepted cash, trips, $24,000 worth of home renovations and a job with a $150,000 annual salary in exchange for supporting a large mixed-use development near Central Expressway, prosecutors alleged.
Jordan, whose last name was Maczka at the time, is now married to the developer behind the project.
In 2015, plans for the 1,000-apartment Palisades project drew sharp protests from the NIMBY neighbors in the Canyon Creek and Prairie Creek neighborhoods adjacent to the proposed complex. They wrote more than 300 letters to the Richardson City Council opposing the project, which they said would bring crime and overcrowded schools to their neighborhood, lowering property values.
Jordan, who lived in Canyon Creek, initially opposed zoning changes that would allow more apartments to be built in Richardson. She changed her mind about the Palisades project, however. After Jordan's change of heart, a local blogging mechanic broke the news of her affair with Palisades developer Mark Jordan, leading Laura Jordan to announce that she would not seek a second term as mayor in April 2015.
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Richardson subsequently investigated Jordan and the rest of the City Council, finding no evidence that they'd violated state or local ethics laws. Nevertheless, a grand jury indicted the Jordans on federal charges in May 2018.
At trial, the Jordans' defense attorneys argued that their clients' affair was all about love and had nothing to do with the actions of the City Council. Prosecutors told jurors that their 2017 marriage was one of convenience, part of a strategy thought up by their defense team, according to reporters in the courtroom.
"You've heard about a relationship born out of corruption, driven by greed and covered by lies," Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Eason told jurors.
The jury found both Jordans guilty of four crimes — conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services wire fraud and bribery. Their sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.