CONROE, Texas (FOX 26) - After surrendering on Friday morning, Texas State Representative Ron Reynolds has begun serving a one-year sentence at the Montgomery County Jail. Despite the sentence, Reynolds does not have to give up his seat as a lawmaker.
Voters in Texas District 27, which covers Stafford, Missouri City, Fresno and a sliver of Harris County, shared their perspectives with FOX 26 News. They have been voting for Rep. Reynolds since 2011. Now that he’s in jail, will that a deal breaker?
“I still think he is of good character,” says Fort Bend County resident James Alberson.
Reynolds has been battling legal trouble since being found guilty in 2015 of barratry, a misdemeanor often referred to "ambulance chasing," where an attorney illegally contacts a car wreck victim before the required thirty-day waiting period has expired. The case is in Montgomery County because according to investigators, Rep. Reynolds, who was an attorney, was paying a Montgomery County resident, who was a convicted felon, to track down car crash victims for Reynolds to represent.
At his trial in 2015, several people testified and said that Reynolds even went a step further, settling their case without their knowledge and keeping their settlement money. Reynolds has denied that and was never charged in connection with keeping clients money.
If you were a voter in his district would you still support him?
"I can’t say at this moment if I would,” answers one woman who lives in Fort Bend County.
"What he did was wrong,” says Debbie Waterman.
"I haven’t been an avid supporter of him, so I probably wouldn’t continue to stay on the bandwagon,” adds Stafford resident Tiffany Carter.
“Well, I don’t approve of what they say he’s done but I’m going to support him," explains one woman who lives in Fort Bend County . "I’ll still support him because I think he’s a good representative and he’s for the people.”
Reynolds was out of jail on an appeals bond until his surrender on Friday. In early 2018, an appeals court upheld his conviction but had not yet ordered his bond revoked. Reynolds received approval from a judge to turn himself in and begin serving his sentence now.
In a statement, Reynolds says he chose to surrender, so he can begin the legislative session on time and will likely be “absent” for four-to-six months. Reynolds also says he’s confident his “misdemeanor conviction will be overturned."
It will be up to the Montgomery County Sheriff to decide if Reynolds is released early. Some determining factors in early release usually include working while in jail, if there’s overcrowding and it isn’t unusual for non-violent offenders to receive three days credit for every one day served. Reynolds could be released from jail in early January 2019, just before the legislative session begins on Jan. 8.