Mayor's former spokesperson charged again, will admit guilt

ByKeaton Fox KTRK logo
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Ward expected to accept pretrial diversion contract
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Darian Ward leaves court in summer 2018.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston mayor Sylvester Turner's former press secretary will agree to enter a pre-trial diversion program on Tuesday, two days after Harris County prosecutors charged her with a new crime, her attorney said.

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

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. She is expected to admit guilt, but not enter a guilty plea. If she 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.

The open records charge she had been facing is expected to be dismissed.

The District Attorney's office wouldn't comment on a potential deal until the next hearing date.

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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