AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Friday morning, embattled Austin Rep. Dawnna Dukes appeared before Judge Brad Urrutia for a hearing, but she was more than two and a half hours late.
Her docket call was scheduled for 9 a.m. Judge Urrutia referenced her delay while he presided over the case.
“We do start court at 9 o’clock,” Judge Urrutia told Dukes. “Sooner you get here, sooner you’re out of here…”
Dukes was indicted earlier this year on corruption, abuse of official capacity and tampering with governmental records charges. After hearing from both parties, Judge Urrutia agreed on Oct. 16 as a trial date.
“Unequivocally, I am not guilty of these charges,” Dukes stated after court proceedings.
“That’ll be our opportunity to, well, it’s not our burden, but that will be our opportunity to show that she’s not guilty on these charges,” her attorney, Matthew Shrum said.
The first indictment includes 13 felony charges on the offense of tampering with a governmental record. The Travis County District Attorney’s Office says these charges are based on allegations that Dukes made false entries on 13 different occasions on State of Texas travel vouchers, in order to obtain reimbursement for expenses to which she was not legally entitled. Dukes’ attorney Shaun Clarke says the charges accuse his client of claiming a reimbursement in the amount of $61.50 to which she allegedly was not entitled; the 13 counts total $799.50.
Two separate indictments were for misdemeanor offenses of abuse of official capacity by a public servant. The charges relate to allegations that Dukes misused public funds for her personal gain, and that she converted campaign funds to personal use.
“We’re in a wonderful country with a wonderful judicial system. With that judicial system, it states and practices that every person is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around, not prosecuted in the press, but you look at the facts,” Dukes said.
Dukes said she would step down from her position representing Austin at the state legislature due to medical reasons last fall. However, Dukes showed up to be sworn in and kept her seat during the session despite missing 75 percent of roll calls.
Before she left the courthouse, when asked whether or not she would seek reelection, she said, “That is a very strong possibility.”
If convicted, Dukes could face up to 28 years in jail.