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Contentious custody court fuels criminal case in Collin Co.

Money laundering, organized criminal activity, bribery. A possible life sentence. Sometimes parents will go to any extreme when fighting for the custody of their children.

A Collin County jury found a University Park woman guilty of eight felony charges for her role in getting a new judge elected to the bench, because another one consistently voted against her husband in family court.

The bitter and contentious child custody case between the woman's husband and his ex-wife caused the couple to finance a 2008 judicial campaign. The maximum sentence the woman is facing is life in jail, although probation is also a possibility. The woman was allowed to stay out of jail until sentencing. A gag order has been placed on all parties involved in the case from talking to the media.

The scheme included laundering nearly a million dollars into the campaign coffers of a candidate for the 380th Judicial District bench in Collin County. Six payments of $150,000 were deposited into the personal bank account of the judge's campaign manager during three months in 2008. The campaign manager then used the funds for campaign expenses. The timing of bank statements, phone calls and emails made it easy to connect the dots, according to the prosecutor.

The judge was also found guilty in an earlier trial. She was forced to resign from her position and sentenced to 10 years probation, a $10,000 fine, and 1,000 hours of community service. Two more hearings are scheduled to try the husband and the campaign manager under similar charges.

Determining child custody is difficult under the best of circumstances. In any high-conflict case when one party cannot compromise, it is vital to employ a family law attorney who is experienced in determining the best interest of the child.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Jury convicts woman of bribing former judge in Collin County," Valerie Wigglesworth, June 27, 2012

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