Developers arrested on corruption charges

January 25, 2008 6:16:03 PM PST
It was just before 9am today when FBI agents arrived with their corruption catch at Houston's federal building. Two of the city's most politically powerful developers, Andrew Schatte and Michael Surface, were arrested on public corruption charges. Details of the indictments are still sealed at this hour. Their arrests will likely trigger political shockwaves through town. Before this morning, Schatte had a long list of close friends in Houston government, from city hall to the commissioners court to the Houston Firefighters Pension Fund. [Read full indictments]

Three years ago, Schattes' name first surfaced in a Justice Department investigation. Houston's former building director, Monique McGilbra, and Mayor Brown's former chief of staff, Oliver Spellman, were snared in that bribery case, but at the time, Schatte escaped indictments.

Schatte and Surface were partners in a company called Keystone, which developed Houston's troubled emergency center and others.

Until last month, Surface, a former Harris County building official, was chairman of the powerful Sports Corporation, which handled the construction of Reliant Stadium. Channel 13 reported his sudden resignation last month. Despite allegations of his implication in a bribery probe, he kept his job as chairman of the Sports Corporation on the nomination of Commissioner Jerry Eversole and vote of commissioners court.

We've reported Eversole is under FBI investigation. Earlier this month, the FBI served subpoenas on Houston's city hall that also asked for records on Hermes architects. During our ongoing investigation, we've reported the founder of the firm did design work on Eversole's house and Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas' ranch house. Neither will say how much they paid for the work.

Hermes was one of the architecture firms involved in the lucrative design deal at Reliant while Surface was in charge there. No one involved in that firm was charged with any crime.

We are told the Justice Department is continuing its investigation. Exclusive coverage of today's indictments will be on Eyewitness News and on abc13.com

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