A Liberty County grand jury on Wednesday indicted former elections administrator Klint Bush, who is charged with Abuse of Official Capacity and Theft of Property. Both charges are related to his service as the former president of the Liberty County Housing Authority and are not related to elections. In addition to those charges, the grand jury also indicted him on a violation under Texas Local Government Code 392.042 that relates to self-dealing.
Bush’s attorney, Gary Tabakman, issued the following statement in response to the indictment: “Klint is a son, a father, a husband, and has been an asset to this community. While he is not perfect, Klint has integrity and looks forward to telling his side of the story. He understands that these charges come with opinions from the general public and that people have strong feelings about these matters. He genuinely respects this community and is thankful for all that support and wish him the best.”
Bush originally was arrested on the charges in December 2022 and again in February 2023 for violating the terms of his bond. Since that time, he has been held without bond in the Liberty County Jail.
The indictment stems from an investigation that began in the fall of 2021 when the Texas Rangers received a complaint from a former Housing Authority employee who accused Bush of fraudulent activities concerning the Housing Authority. Among the documents Bluebonnet News obtained in December 2022 that ultimately led to the charges and his arrest is an affidavit from Delores Moore, a former Housing Authority employee who was fired from the agency in May 2021.
Here is an excerpt from a Bluebonnet News article from December 2022 that details the investigation:
Bush is accused of using $25,000 of the CARES Act money to purchase a property for the Housing Authority. He later was notified by the fee accountant responsible for auditing federal grant funds that the money would have to be returned in full to the LCHA as it was not spent on items on the approved list of expenditures associated with the grant.
“According to Moore, Bush became frustrated and said the HUD could not tell him how to spend the funds. Subsequently, Bush spent an approximate $34,000 on items from the approved list by HUD in an attempt to repay the $25,000 in a scheme Bush referred to as ‘legal laundering,’” the affidavit reads. “Moore stated this is when Bush had her issue checks from LCHA to purchase COVID masks, sneeze guards and tablets for LCHA employees to work from home. Moore said she gave Bush the checks from LCHA made payable to two companies: Liberty Technologies and County Healthcare. Moore told Affiant (Texas Ranger Josh Benson) that Bush created a private corporation separate from LCHA, called Liberty County Housing Corporation (LCHC) and was moving money from the LCHA to the LCHC to use the money as needed without seeking board approval from LCHA.”
Records obtained in the investigation reportedly show that on May 29, 2020, Bush deposited $25,000 in CARES Act funds from the LCHA for the purchase of a property at 108 Pear Street in Devers. The purchase of the property, which had only one mobile home at the time, was intended for “At Risk Senior Development.”
In her statement to investigators, quoted directly in the affidavit, Moore said, “Bush’s method for paying the $25,000 back was to buy items from the approved purchasing list. I asked Bush how was spending more money going to remedy the issue. Bush stated that he spoke with his attorneys, who told him how to do it. Bush referred to this process as ‘legal laundering.’”
A couple of days later, expenditures totaling $34,667.49 appeared. These were for the following:
- $11,999.99 paid to Liberty Technologies for 10 laptops for staff and board of commissioners due to COVID-19;
- $3,890 paid to County Healthcare for 10 free-standing sneeze guards, with pass through, to protect staff from COVID-19;
- $12,497.50 paid to County Healthcare for the acquisition of 250 boxes of disposable facemasks for staff, tenants and public use;
- $6,280 to CJ Services to remodel the LCHA office for COVID-19 to allow for social distancing and for the construction of three ramps for HCV properties.
In the affidavit, Moore apparently disputed some of the charges. Instead of receiving 10 laptops, 10 tablet devices with keyboards were received. Packing slips and stickers with the devices suggested they were refurbished items. None reportedly were loaded with software. As for the renovations at the LCHA office, Moore told investigators that a door was installed but not painted and no ramps were constructed.
The corporations Bush allegedly used for the ‘legal laundering’ scheme involved fellow firefighters at the Liberty County ESD 7, Stephanie and Chris Johnson. Stephanie served on the ESD 7 board alongside Bush at the time. She told investigators that Bush approached her and asked that she open two bank accounts through Hardin Bank in her name using the DBA of Liberty Technologies and County Healthcare, and that a combined initial deposit of $28,387.49 was made between the two accounts.
“Bush provided her with two checks from the Liberty County Housing Authority used to fund the accounts. Stephanie Johnson told Affiant (Ranger Josh Benson) that she did open the accounts as instructed by Bush, but no inventory or products for sale were ever owned or maintained by Liberty Technologies or County Healthcare. Stephanie Johnson stated that a short time later Bush told her to give him a check back for approximately $25,000 and Bush instructed her to make the check payable to Liberty County Housing Corporation,” the affidavit reads. “Stephanie Johnson stated that she provided the checks to Bush and never thought LCHC was not affiliated with LCHA.”
Johnson reportedly told investigators that she closed the accounts as they were costing her and her husband money, but that Bush told her to keep approximately $3,000 to cover taxes.
“Chris Johnson began working for Bush in early 2020 for the Liberty County Housing Authority doing Section 8 inspections. Johnson told Affiant (Ranger Benson) that he was approached by Bush to place a bid for a construction project that LCHA needed completed. Shortly thereafter Chris Johnson formed CJ Services after Bush approached him about doing small contractor jobs for him through LCHA,” the affidavit reads.
Among the allegations made is that Chris Johnson had originally prepared a bid for $2,700 for the replacement of doors at the LCHA, but was reportedly advised by Bush to change his quote to $7,500. He allegedly was then asked to provide Bush with a check for a refund of $4,800 to the Liberty County Housing Corporation. Like his wife, Johnson told investigators that he believed that LCHC and LCHA were affiliated.
In recent weeks, Liberty County commissioners have abolished the Elections Administration Office and returned all election duties to the County Clerk’s Office, except for the registrar duties, which have returned to the Liberty County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office.