A Robertson County grand jury on Wednesday indicted former district attorney John Paschall on a first-degree felony charge of misapplication of fiduciary property.
Paschall, 61, is accused of misusing money belonging to the estate of Calvert resident Marium Oscar while he served as its executor. Oscar died in 2004.
The grand jury reached its decision Wednesday afternoon following a two-day meeting in which special prosecutors from the Texas Attorney General's Office presented the case.
Paschall, who served six terms as Robertson County's district attorney, turned himself in to the Robertson County Sheriff's Office shortly after grand jurors returned an indictment. He was released from jail on a $30,000 personal recognizance bond. He did not return calls for comment Wednesday.
The misapplication of more than $200,000 is a first-degree felony punishable by five years to life in prison if convicted.
The issue was first raised in 2011 when attorney Ty Clevenger filed a lawsuit on behalf of two of Oscar's distant relatives. The petition was amended two years later, naming as plaintiff the Calvert Historical Foundation, which is the nonprofit organization where Oscar wanted her remaining assets donated after her death, according to her trust agreement.
In January 2014, what Paschall said remained of Oscar's estate, $86,000, was submitted to the county registry. The estate, inherited from Oscar's deceased sister in 1991, had been appraised at about $300,000.
Judge H.D. Black dismissed the civil suit in August 2014 after the foundation cut ties with Clevenger, who had agreed to represent the plaintiff pro bono.
At that time, The Eagle reported that the Texas Rangers, the Texas Attorney General's Office and the State Bar of Texas was investigating Paschall for misappropriation of funds.
On Wednesday, Clevenger called Paschall's indictment "a relief."
"He's done a lot of bad things to a lot of good people, and he's been getting away with it for far too long," Clevenger said.
Paschall, who ran as a Democrat, was district attorney from 1980 to 1984. He ran again in 1992 and went on to serve five terms, ending in 2012, as the county's lead prosecutor.
He was indicted in January 1987 on charges of theft by a public servant and misapplication of fiduciary property stemming from allegations that he had pocketed money intended for a crime victim. A grand jury later dropped the theft charge but reindicted Paschall on the misapplication of funds charge in May 1987. The case was once again sent to a grand jury in June 1987 but the charge was dismissed, according to his attorney, Jim James.
James declined to comment on the indictment Wednesday but a friend of almost 30 years described Paschall as a good man.
"I trust him completely and have the utmost respect for him as a lawyer and as a person," said Dan Jones, who is also a Bryan attorney. "I hate to hear about the indictment, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Let's withhold judgment and let's give the process a chance."