Garland’s Joe Driver will remain in office, collect pension after stealing state funds

State Rep. Joe Driver of Garland may have pleaded guilty to felony abuse-of-office charges last week for pocketing taxpayer money, but that doesn’t mean he has to resign. Nope. Turns out the Travis County court that convicted him gave him deferred adjudication so he can stay in office until his term expires in 2013, and even collect pension funds and state-funded healthcare when he retires.

An investigation by the Associated Press last August revealed that Driver had been billing the state for travel expenses already paid for by his campaign. In the interview, he admitted submitting receipts for luxury hotels, meals and incidentals as well as mileage expenses. Altogether, the AP revealed he had double billed for at least $17,431.55 since 2005.

Driver responded that he didn’t realize it was wrong. “Now you’re scaring the heck out of me,” Driver said to the AP reporter who pointed out it was, in fact, wrong, adding: “It pretty well screws my week.”

At least Travis County didn’t screw him – as unfair as that may be for taxpayers. His defferred adjudication lasts five years, and he will serve no jail time unless he violates his parole. The court also handed him a $5,000 fine and recommended him for counseling. Small change for a third degree felony, if you ask me. Abuse of office carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Driver has paid his campaign back $50,000, and will pay almost $14,000 more bringing the total up to $63,748.36. While he has announced he will not be running for reelection in 2013, he has said nothing about resigning early. Say it ain’t so, Joe.

The Texas Tribune posted this video of his brief statement to the press after pleading guilty.

Posted by on November 30, 2011. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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