HOUSTON (AP) – A Texas judge is facing fraud charges for allegedly spending campaign money on personal expenses. Prosecutors say Harris County Judge Alexandra Smoots-Thomas misused nearly $25,000 in campaign funds between January 2016 and March 2017. The indictment unsealed Friday shows she spent that money on a home mortgage, private school tuition, jewelry and travel. The 44-year-old Smoots-Thomas pleaded not guilty Friday after she turned herself in to U.S. Magistrate Peter Bray.
The indictment says Smoots-Thomas concealed the personal expenses from her campaign treasurer at the time. Attorney Kent Schaffer said Smoots-Thomas didn’t defraud anybody. He said federal prosecutors are targeting her because she’s a black female Democrat. Smoots-Thomas presides over the 164th District Court and has jurisdiction over civil cases in Harris County. A pretrial conference is set for Jan. 6.