Texas judged suspended following fraud charges

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas judge has been suspended after being indicted in October on federal fraud charges for allegedly spending campaign money on personal expenses.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed Judge Alexandra Smoots-Thomas from the bench Tuesday pending the resolution of her criminal case. She’s suspended without pay.

Prosecutors claim the Harris County district judge misused nearly $25,000 in campaign funds between January 2016 and March 2017. Her seven-count indictment says the 44-year-old spent the money on a home mortgage, private school tuition, jewelry and travel.

Smoots-Thomas turned herself in Friday, pleaded not guilty and was released on bond. Her attorney, Kent Schaffer, said the judge didn't defraud anybody and that prosecutors are targeting her because she's black, female and a Democrat.

A pretrial conference is set for Jan. 6.