BEAUMONT, TX (KTRK) --In Beaumont Thursday morning, a small group of people stood in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse, hand in hand and prayed. It was the first time they had ever met, but they have one thing in common.
Each said they were a client of Houston community activist Quanell X, and collectively paid him thousands of dollars. They claim they received little in return.
"I paid him $3,500 in April to generate media attention for my husband's case," said Lesley Bradley.
Bradley's husband has been in jail for a decade, for a crime she said he didn't commit.
"No DNA evidence ties him to anything. He didn't even match the suspect's description," she said. His case is now pending before the Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin.
"We didn't get anything from Quanell," she said, holding the cashier's check receipt.
Another woman cried as she said her mother paid $13,000 for help in a family legal case.
"It was her life savings," she said.
Activist Ricky Jason, of Beaumont, was part of a news conference after the prayer vigil. Like Quanell X, he charges for his services that aim to generate publicity on what his clients perceive as injustice.
"I charge way less than Quanell," said Jason. "And if I don't show up, I give them their money back."
Quanell X has faced similar criticism in the past. He says if his investigations of cases reveal something different than what clients anticipated, it's not his fault, but it is the truth.
Quanell X released this statement to Eyewitness News in response to the allegations:
"We welcome any member of the human family to come to us for help. But please tell us the truth and the whole story. Often, people come to us for helping saying it's a race issue. But when we investigate, we find out race had nothing to do with it. Just because you retained my office to work for you, doesn't mean we will lie for you."
He also said that some of the clients who spoke out still have active cases with him, and he is still investigating.
The group says it has created a GoFundMe account, with a $50,000 goal, to file a class action lawsuit.