Ron Reynolds is accused of illegally pursuing clients for his law practice. Now, we're learning more about the crime and how authorities were tipped off in the case.
Barratry is said to not be uncommon around courthouses, but the prosecution of it is. This case sticks out, starting with the fact that the accused is a state representative and an attorney.
Reynolds, a lawyer, turned himself on Tuesday. We attempted to speak to him earlier at his Houston law office. At his district office in Missouri City, the door was locked and the lights were off; and at his home, no one answered.
But a few blocks away, we found Flora McAtee, a constituent.
"All these people running our country and our towns and our states, it doesn't surprise me," she said.
Recently, signs went up at the Harris County court house warning that barratry is a crime. It's the term used when lawyers improperly approach potential clients and is sometimes called ambulance chasing.
The case against Reynolds, according to the charging document, began April 16 when allegedly, he "directly or indirectly contacted a prospective client" who had been in a car accident. But it's more involved than that. That potential client was a lawyer who complained to the DA's office.
An undercover investigation began, and it started here at a southwest Houston chiropractic office. Rather than being asked for insurance information, prosecutors say the investigator was asked to sign an attorney client contract and it was allegedly traced to Reynolds.
"Certainly I'm concerned about it because these clients are being tricked by the very man who's been charged with representing their legal rights and has been tricked into signing a contract and signing over a portion of any settlement that they would get from an insurance company to this lawyer they've never met or they've never asked for, they were just given this form and (asked to) sign here," prosecutor Wendy Baker said.
Reynolds is out free on a $5,000 bond. The punishment for a barratry conviction ranges from probation up to 10 years in prison, and depending what on what happens in court, the State Bar and the state's legislative ethics committee could get involved.