Longtime Harris County Commissioner Avoids Prison
January 4, 2012
by: Pat Hernandez
U.S. District Judge David Hittner sentenced Eversole, the former Precinct 4 commissioner to 3 years probation in a case that could have landed him in federal prison for up to three years and cost him up to $100,000 in fines.
Eversole was accused of accepting bribes from developer Michael Surface. The sentence is for lying to a federal investigator about money and lavish gifts the government alleges Eversole received from Surface, a longtime friend, in return for lucrative county contracts.
Surface also worked for Harris County as a facilities management director. He had been indicted on conspiracy and paying a bribe. Last October, he pleaded guilty to filing a false tax statement and was also sentenced to three years probation.
Chip Lewis is Surface's attorney:
"He is happy to get forward in his life, move on with his family and put this behind him. It's been a very long ten years for Mike Surface. He's tthankful for all the support of his friends and family, and he's hankful Judge Hittner saw this for what it was."
Eversole had been charged with conspiracy, accepting a bribe, and making false statements on tax returns in 2003 and 2004. All those charges were dismissed.
Like Surface, Jerry Eversole refused comment on his sentencing and instead, let his attorney Rusty Hardin speak on his behalf. Hardin says he was ready to play hardball with government prosecutors, if need be.
"The judge read a provision in his sentencing memo, in which we took exception, and I said that I thought it was unseemly for the government to seek to have him punished for the counts they chose to dismiss, and that they could have asked for a trial on. We'd let a jury decide and they chose not to do that. And then they wanted the judge to punish him for something they didn't have the courage to try."
Part of the plea deal involved Eversole resigning from the Precinct 4 office he held for 20 years. He submitted his resignation in October and was later replaced by Jack Cagle.
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