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Conviction upheld for Charlie Malouff in Jonestown fraud case

A state appeals court on Wednesday upheld the fraud conviction and 15-year prison sentence against former police officer Charlie Malouff, who was found guilty in August 2013 of falsifying documents to obtain almost $2 million in federal stimulus money for a Jonestown wind farm that never came to fruition.

The 3rd Court of Appeals rejected four issues he raised in his Travis County trial, finding he was not selectively prosecuted, that the judge presiding over his case had not erred in declining to toss out certain testimony and in refusing to grant his defense more time to review evidence, and that the indictment against him had not been vague.

Malouff, 57, pleaded guilty in July 2012 to possession of a firearm and destructive devices by a felon, more than a year before he faced a Travis County jury on the fraud charges. He is serving 2½ years in prison for the gun offenses, concurrent with the 15-year prison sentence in the state case.

Mary Jo Woodall, an official in the Texas comptroller’s office accused of helping Malouff navigate the state grant process with a fraudulent application, also pleaded guilty in 2013 to felony misuse of information. She was sentenced to three years of probation.

During Malouff’s trial, witnesses said Malouff wooed Jonestown officials – the city applied for the grant – with promises of $90,000 in annual energy savings and made his project sound ready for construction, when in fact it was still in the research stages. Prosecutors said Malouff used some of the money for trips with Woodall, a longtime friend and ex-girlfriend, as well as clothing and motorcycle accessories.

The former officer also had sought to have his conviction on the federal weapons charges overturned, alleging his guilty plea was entered involuntarily and that his defense counsel was ineffective. But U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin rejected his claim in November 2014.

In his petition filed in the U.S. Western District of Texas, Malouff contended his public defense lawyer forced him to take the plea deal in the federal case before completing a full pretrial investigation and later failed to file his direct appeal. He has since filed another appeal on his own behalf with the 5th Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals.