HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Facing a slew of criminal charges former Congressman Steve Stockman appeared before a Federal Magistrate today and claimed he has no money to pay lawyers.
Stockman is accused of fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, tax evasion and lying to federal agents--28 counts in all.
Prosecutors claim Stockman solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of a charity and then spent much of the money on personal expenses and his political campaigns.
Today the 60-year-old, one-time Republican Senate candidate appeared before the judge along with alleged drug dealers and a suspected bank robber. They were in chains and jail garb. Stockman was not.
Stockman told magistrate Nancy Johnson he was unemployed and could not afford a lawyer, even though his wife earns about $6,000 per month and the couple owns a Friendswood home.
Johnson granted the ex-congressman's request for a court appointed attorney and scheduled a formal arraignment for Friday.
Outside the courtroom Stockman declined comment, but has previously claimed he is the victim of a government conspiracy.
Rice political scientist Mark Jones strongly doubts that is a case Stockman can successfully make.
"One thing we do know from Stockman's past campaigns and life as a politician is that mistruths, half-truths and outright lies and fabrications were a staple of his political career so there is no reason to believe they wouldn't be a staple of his political defense," said Jones.
Thomas Dodd, a former aid in Stockman's congressional office has already pleaded guilty to a charge related to the scheme and could testify against his former boss if the case goes to trial.