HOUSTON - Dr. Steven Hotze, a longtime Republican activist, fundraiser, and political provocateur, was arraigned on felony charges of unlawful restraint and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a badly botched, privately bankrolled investigation of alleged election fraud.
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Bond for the 71-year-old was set at $18,500.
"We are looking forward to proving his innocence and him being acquitted and the District Attorney's Office offering us an apology for prosecuting a very good man, long-standing member of this community who did absolutely nothing wrong," said Jared Woodfill, Hotze's attorney.
Prosecutors say it was Hotze's money and directives that set in motion former HPD Captain Mark Aguirre who in the run-up to the 2020 election rammed an A/C repair van and held its driver at gunpoint in the mistaken belief the vehicle was transporting fraudulent ballots.
Hotze's lawyers say their client neither ordered nor approved Aguirre's actions and should not be held criminally responsible - a claim which FOX 26 Senior Legal Analyst Chris Tritico believes could prove problematic when a jury learns Hotze paid Aguirre $211,000 dollars on the day after the alleged hold-up and assault.
"Had he fired him when he found out about it and said, 'I didn't ask you to do that;' ‘I specifically told you not to break the law;’ ‘You are fired, buddy;’ 'You are on your own, get out;' That would have been a good defense," said Tritico. "It's back to that critical link, that $200,000 that brings all of this back together."
Tritico says, in the legal realm the concept is commonly described as "in for a penny, in for a pound".
In this case, even if Dr. Hotze didn't physically participate in the actual alleged restraint and assault of the victim, his behind the scenes role could be deemed an equal part of the alleged crime.