AUSTIN — Federal prosecutors filed new charges of wire fraud against Nate Paul, the Austin real estate developer embroiled in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment.
Paul was indicted Tuesday on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud, each carrying a possible sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office office.
They are in addition to eight charges of making false statements to lenders against the developer, who was once heralded as a burgeoning real estate mogul in the Texas capital.
Paul is accused of operating World Class, his conglomerate of real estate holdings, as something akin to a Ponzi scheme, according to the indictment. Paul would create a new partnership when he invested in a new venture with limited partners and using their investment cash to pay the expenses of another partnership, court documents allege.
The indictment states Paul and his assistants hid the payments by creating false financial reports that concealed the use of a limited partnership’s investment to pay expenses of other companies.
The indictment referenced five financial reports Paul’s company provided to investors indicating they were owed collectively roughly $466,000 when they actually were due nearly $7.5 million. The reports also overstate operating cash for the partnerships at $2.1 million when they had only about $62,000 cash on hand, the indictment stated.
A message seeking comment from Paul’s attorney was not immediately returned.
During Paxton’s impeachment, it was revealed that Paul worked closely with the attorney general in efforts seen by some former employees of Paxton as attempts to undermine the federal investigation into Paul. Several top deputies reported Paxton to the FBI in 2020. They were later fired or resigned.
The Texas House impeached Paxton in part over his dealings with Paul in May. The Senate cleared the attorney general of all charges in September.
Paul’s connections to Paxton include a campaign donation made in 2018. But Paxton’s work with Paul that became the backbone of the attorney general’s impeachment followed a 2019 raid of Paul’s home and business in Austin.
Paul alleged the FBI illegally searched his properties by falsifying search warrant affidavits. He asked Paxton’s office to intervene on multiple fronts, several former employees testified. However, top deputies dragged their feet in disbelief over Paul’s allegations and fear that any action against the FBI, the U.S Attorney’s Office or federal judges would fray their relationship with the Department of Justice, according to documents from Paxton’s impeachment trial.
The impeachment investigation uncovered several meetings between Paul and staff at the attorney general’s office as well as other connections between the real estate developer and Paxton, including an allegation that Paul had set up an Uber account to arrange rides for Paxton to meet the woman with whom the attorney general allegedly had an affair.
Paxton, who is under FBI investigation, has denied any wrongdoing in his interactions with Paul. He is not mentioned in the indictment.
The wire fraud charges are in addition to eight federal charges that Paul made false statements to banks and credit unions based in Ireland, New York, Connecticut and Texas. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Federal authorities want $172 million in restitution, representing the amount of money Paul’s real estate company obtained under false pretenses. A federal grand jury indicted Paul on those charges in June. He is set to face trial in July 2024, according to court documents.
This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas.