FRANKLIN — Former Robertson County District Attorney John Paschall will have to give up his law license after pleading guilty to a felony charge of misusing money from an estate for which he was an executor.
Paschall — who served six terms as Robertson County’s top prosecutor before going into private practice — will have to report to the Brazos County Detention Center on Feb. 8 to begin serving a sentence that requires him to spend 30 nights behind bars during the week on a work release schedule. He’ll turn himself in at 7:30 p.m. and be released the next morning at 4 a.m.
He was also placed on 10 years probation, issued a $1,000 fine and will be required to pay restitution, though an amount has not yet been set.
Bryan attorney Jim James represented Paschall.
“John Paschall is a good person,” James said. “He’s a friend of mine. He made a mistake and he’s going to go on with his life.”
Paschall declined to comment after the hearing.
Paschall was indicted a year ago on a first-degree felony charge of misapplication of fiduciary property, but the case was negotiated to a third-degree felony with a punishment range of up to 10 years.
Because Paschall had no previous felony convictions, probation was allowed.
Paschall, 62, was accused of misusing money that belonged to the estate of Calvert resident Marium Oscar after he was named the executor of her will. Oscar died in 2004.
The investigation began in 2011 when attorney Ty Clevenger filed a lawsuit on behalf of Oscar’s distant relatives, according to court records. The petition was later amended, naming as plaintiff the Calvert Historical Foundation, which is the nonprofit where Oscar wanted her money donated after her death, according to her trust agreement.
In January 2014, Paschall said in court filings that $86,000 was all that was left of an estate that had been appraised at $300,000. It was money inherited by Oscar after her sister’s death in 1991.
Clevenger called Paschall’s punishment “a slap on the wrist.”
“What kind of message does that send that a district attorney can steal money from a helpless old lady and never spend a day in prison for it?” Clevenger said. “It’s certainly not going to deter corruption among prosecutors or anyone else.”
The hearing to determine Paschall’s restitution is scheduled for early February, unless an agreement is reached before then.
Paschall, who ran as a Democrat, was district attorney from 1980 to 1984. He ran again in 1992 and served five terms, ending in 2012.
Special prosecutors from the Texas Attorney General’s Office presented the plea deal, which was heard by visiting district judge Doug Shaver.