Criminal JusticeFederalIssuesJudicialLocal NewsTaxes & SpendingConvicted Ex-Mayor of Richardson Laura Maczka Jordan, Husband Mark Jordan Free on Bond During Appeal

In August, a federal judge sentenced Laura and Mark Jordan to six years in prison after a jury convicted them of bribery and tax fraud.
September 22, 2022
Former Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka Jordan and her husband, Mark Jordan, will remain free on bond during the appeal of their convictions on charges including bribery and tax fraud. Last month, a U.S. district judge sentenced each of them to six years of incarceration, and they were due to report to federal prison on October 24.

Judge Amos Mazzant in Sherman decided that the Jordans had met their legal burden to show they are not flight risks and had substantive issues to be decided by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Mazzant granted their requests to remain free on bond.

In July 2021, a jury convicted Laura and Mark Jordan of bribery, tax fraud, conspiracy, and defrauding the U.S. government in a scheme that took place during Laura Jordan’s tenure as mayor from May 2013 to April 2015. They were acquitted of honest services wire fraud.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Mark Jordan, a real estate developer, gave Laura Jordan tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of bribes while she was mayor in exchange for favorable votes on zoning regulations and other measures. The City of Richardson ultimately approved Mark Jordan’s real estate project and granted his company a $47 million tax incentive package.

The couple married in 2017 after the federal government began investigating them, which prosecutors alleged was part of a defense strategy.

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The Jordans were previously convicted in 2020 on charges ranging from bribery to honest services wire fraud, but those convictions were invalidated after it came to light that a court security officer had made a comment to a juror that may have swayed the outcome of the trial. The DOJ charged them again in December 2020 and included tax fraud charges that were not part of the first trial.

In a decision published on Friday, September 16, Mazzant discussed the case law that persuaded him to release them on bond.

“The Defendants are not likely to flee, nor do they pose a danger to the community. Indeed, the Court did not order Defendants into custody immediately following sentencing for this very reason,” Mazzant wrote. “Further, the Court recognizes that the appeal is not for the purpose of delay because it does raise a substantial question of law or fact.”

The Jordans’ lawyers filed new motions after a development in a similar case that Mazzant indicated could impact their appeal.

The Fifth Circuit recently vacated the conviction of Ruel Hamilton, a real estate developer convicted of bribing former Dallas City Council members Carolyn Davis, who died in a car accident caused by a drunk driver in 2019, and Dwaine Caraway, who was released from prison earlier this year.

The appeal in the Hamilton case revolved around a distinction between a gratuity and a bribe. The Fifth Circuit opined that the trial court judge had not correctly instructed the jury regarding the difference between the two.

“Given the Fifth Circuit’s reasoning in Hamilton, the Court must recognize that Defendants have presented close questions that the Fifth Circuit could very well decide in Defendants’ favor,” Mazzant wrote.

“Specifically, the Fifth Circuit could conclude that the jury, as instructed in this case, could have convicted the Jordans under either a bribery theory or a gratuity theory. Because that possibility was sufficient to vacate Hamilton’s conviction, it may be enough to vacate the Jordans’ convictions as well.”

If that does happen, the Jordans may be back at the federal courthouse in Sherman for a third trial.

A copy of Mazzant’s decision can be found below.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."