Top aide to former Houston mayor wore wire during FBI investigation, attorney says

Tuesday, February 6, 2024
Aide to former Houston mayor sentenced to 12 months, 1 day in prison
William-Paul Thomas, the former aide of previous Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, was found guilty back in 2022 after admitting to taking a cash bribe to help establishments operate without the proper COVID-19 requirements.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The former top aide to previous Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner faced a judge on Monday morning, when he was sentenced for his role in a bribery scheme in 2020.

William-Paul Thomas pleaded guilty in July 2022 to a federal bribery charge.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Mayor's top aide resigns after allegedly helping businesses operate despite unmet COVID requirements

Thomas admitted to accepting a cash bribe in exchange for changing a bar's classification to a restaurant, which would allow it to stay open longer during COVID-19 restrictions.

His attorney, Monique Sparks, said after his sentencing hearing that the bribe was less than $1,000. Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office argued during the hearing that he also accepted invites to events, gift cards, and meals in exchange for helping two other unnamed businesses.

In court on Monday, it was revealed that Thomas was reportedly approached by the FBI in November 2020 and worked with them. His attorney confirmed he wore a wire to certain city functions to "shore things up."

The U.S. Attorney's Office said it would not speculate on possible future charges for others involved in the case. Several documents remain sealed, and a spokesperson for the office said they are not set to be unsealed.

He was sentenced to one year and a day in prison and will be on supervised release for three years. Plus, he must pay a $5,000 fine.

Thomas abruptly tendered his resignation from Turner's cabinet the day after he pleaded guilty in 2022, stunning city hall officials.

ABC13's Courtney Carpenter was at the courthouse during the sentencing. Sparks said they hoped he would not have to serve prison time due to his years of public service.

The former mayor Sylvester Tuner's aide, William- Paul Thomas, was sentenced to 1 year in federal prison after being found guilty of corruption.

Sparks said her client's actions made him a leper, adding he could no longer work in the public sector. She said he had complied with authorities since he was approached in 2020.

Thomas spoke to the court and requested probation after admitting he made a "great mistake" and that he'd reflected on it. He also asked to stay close to Houston to serve his time.

The Federal Bureaus of Prisons will inform him of the date he is scheduled to report.

RELATED: 13 Investigates examines Houston mayoral aide's past

13 Investigates is learning more about William Paul Thomas' connections to Houston politics.