Laura Maczka, now known as Laura Jordan, was found guilty of a myriad of violations while she was the mayor of Richardson from 2013 to 2015. Also convicted was Mark Jordan, the real-estate developer who bribed her and who she allegedly married as a defense strategy.
In the official accusation, which was made on May 10, 2018, federal prosecutors alleged that Mark Jordan purchased forty acres of land, known as the Palisades Property, to build a multi-purpose urban development that included apartments, known as the Palisades Project.
Laura Jordan had run for mayor on the promise to oppose the development of new apartments in Richardson neighborhoods, a suburb between Dallas and McKinney.
Mark Jordan, however, had other plans.
The indictment against the Jordans presented a timeline of lavish vacations the developer took with Laura Jordan, “intimate sexual contact,” cash payments, and an offer of a six-figure salary job to the then-mayor that coincided with votes on the unpopular real estate development.
The government said that Mark Jordan invoiced contractors for renovating the mayor’s home, claiming that the improvements were made on his businesses.
The indictment asserted that Laura Jordan even caused her unwitting ex-husband to file a false income tax return because she failed to report her paramour’s gifts.
The ex-mayor is named “Laura Jordan” in legal filings, but she is also known by her former name, Laura Maczka, because her marriage is controversial.
While she was mayor, Laura Jordan was cheating on her then-husband, known only as “MM,” who she divorced in January 2015, according to court documents.
The Dallas Morning News reported that federal prosecutors posited at trial that the Jordans’ marriage was part of a ruse they concocted as a defense strategy to avoid being convicted for their corrupt relationship. They wed in the summer of 2017, less than one year prior to being indicted.
Laura Jordan’s attorney, Jeff Kearney, rebutted that she and Mark Jordan were simply lovers who were acting the way people having a secret affair would act, The Dallas Morning News also reported.
In the end, they were found guilty.
The Jordans were convicted of multiple counts of honest services wire fraud, conspiracy, and bribery concerning a local government receiving federal funds.
The Justice Department announced the convictions in a press release last year.
“This kind of corrupt relationship undermines the public’s confidence in government,” then-U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown of the Eastern District of Texas said, “This was more than an ethical violation, this was absolutely criminal. We need juries that recognize public corruption for what it is, and support prosecutions that attempt to hold accountable those that cheat. This jury certainly did that.”
The convictions placed the Jordans in jeopardy of decades spent in prison, criminal asset forfeiture, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
However, according to court documents, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant threw out their convictions and ordered a new trial after his law clerks revealed that a bailiff, officially known as a court security officer, had an improper conversation with a juror, known as “Juror 11,” who was upset over the prospect of either convicting the Jordans or causing a mistrial by sticking to her guns and remaining the sole vote to acquit them.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed Mazzant’s decision in May.
According to the court of appeal’s decision, the Jordans’ attorney made a motion for a new trial, asserting that their Sixth Amendment rights had been breached due to the influence the court security officer’s conversation may have had on Juror 11.
Mazzant agreed that the court security officer’s comments had an unacceptable impact on Juror 11’s decision to ultimately convict the Jordans.
The government unsuccessfully contended that the district court should have held an evidentiary hearing before granting the Jordans’ request for a new trial. In fact, in their opinion, the judges seemed irked by the federal government’s “cherry-picked quotations” of case law to support their claims.
It appears the ball is in the federal government’s court.
While it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which the feds drop a case that was tainted by an error that wasn’t theirs, they have not made an official announcement.
In the meantime, the Jordans are still presumed innocent.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas told The Texan on Thursday that they may follow up with a comment.
UPDATE: Trial in the cases against Laura Jordan and Mark Jordan is set to commence in July 2021.
Kim Roberts contributed to this report.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.