Houston mayor's former spokesperson admits guilt

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Darian Ward and her attorney walk down a hallway in the Harris County Courthouse before an appearance Oct. 16, 2018.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner's former press secretary admitted guilt and agreed to enter a pre-trial diversion program Tuesday morning.

An ABC13 investigation revealed Darian Ward hid thousands of emails after a journalist requested them under state law.

"I want to apologize and take responsibility for my actions," Ward said after court. "My intentions were pure."

Ward was charged Friday with abuse of official capacity, a Class A misdemeanor. She was already facing a charge of refusing to provide official information.

The diversion program will serve as a way to resolve the new charge. If Ward complies with the diversion contract and completes a short-term type of probation, her case will be wiped off her record. She will remain eligible for an expungement, which legally would erase the charges completely.

Ward has to serve 30 hours of community service along with paying a fine. If she stays out of trouble for a year, the case can be deleted from her record.

The open records charge she had been facing is expected to be dismissed.
RELATED: How the Darian Ward investigation started (but almost never happened)
The second charge targets Ward's extensive use of her work computer for her own personal gain, according to court documents.

Ward's own emails show she sent thousands of non-city related messages relating to reality show pitches and work for a non-city related charity. Many of the emails included her official title and city seal, even though the content of the message had nothing to do with the city.
In at least one email, Ward wrote to Southwest Airlines, seeking airfare for the charity.

In Ward's case, she was asked to search her own emails and hand over anything non-work related.

She told her boss she only had 30 pages of documents. A search by the city's legal department showed she had more than 5,000.

RELATED: In Houston, city officials often get to decide which records to hand over when requested

Ward was suspended without pay for two weeks but allowed back on the job by Turner. She later resigned.

The mayor's office didn't respond immediately to a request for comment.

INTERACTIVE: From investigation to resignation - the fall of Darian Ward

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