Hotze has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint. Also indicted with the same charges was Mark Aguirre, a former Houston police captain turned private investigator.
The incident occurred on October 19, 2020 when Aguirre rear-ended an air conditioning repair truck. He then held the driver, David Lopez, at gunpoint until officers arrived on the scene.
Aguirre said that he suspected the man being held at gunpoint to be part of an illegal ballot harvesting scheme, alleging 750,000 fraudulent ballots were in the vehicle he rear-ended. Police found no ballots in the truck. Aguirre was summarily arrested and later charged with aggravated assault.
It came out later that Aguirre was hired by Hotze’s Liberty Center for God and Country, which claims to “promote and protect our God-given, unalienable Constitutional rights and liberties through publications, conferences and events, as well as support legal efforts that protect these liberties.”
Along with other private investigators, Aguirre was contracted by LCGC to investigate claims of voter fraud in Harris County. Hotze was not at the scene of the crime.
Hotze’s attorney Gary Polland told The Texan, “Mr. Hotze was not aware of what Aguirre was doing and was not a party to any crime.”
He added that Hotze “will vigorously defend himself.”
Polland said the Harris County District Attorney’s office is citing Section 7.02 of the Texas Penal Code, which defines criminal responsibility for the conduct of another.
“A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if…acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense,” reads the statute.
Polland said that while Aguirre was being paid by LCGC to investigate voter fraud, he was not tasked with committing this crime.
In a letter to the grand jury Polland provided to The Texan, the attorney wrote, “There is a civil case pending against Dr. Steven Hotze and Liberty Center for God and Country relating to the facts of the criminal case against Mark Aguirre.”
“Through the discovery in the civil case, deposition transcripts allow us to rule out any possibility that Dr. Steven Hotze is liable under the much lower standard of proof in a civil case of preponderance of the evidence. That said, the higher burden carried in criminal cases negate any possibility that probable cause could exist for a criminal charge against Dr. Steven Hotze.”
It also includes transcripts from the deposition of Lopez, in which he says he had no previous recollection of Hotze before or during the incident.
Records provided to the grand jury showed the LCGC paid Aguirre over $200,000 the day after the incident. Polland said that was for outstanding money owed to Aguirre by LCGC for the voter fraud investigation services.
“Upon careful study of the information provided, you will see that not even a causal connection exists lending anything close to probable cause for Dr. Steven Hotze in the criminal action pending against defendant Mark Aguirre,” Polland’s letter concludes.
An arraignment hearing is set for June 1.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.