Longtime Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Jacquelyn Wright has had her fair share of controversy in the 28 years she’s served in that position.
But that controversy may be outpaced by Wednesday’s news that a grand jury indicted Wright, 77, on four felony charges related to homestead exemptions she claimed.
It is alleged that she falsely claimed the exemptions on homes she did not live in to avoid paying property taxes on a home on Ivy Hill Road in Fort Worth, the indictment said. Her claims spanned from 2010 to 2018, when she falsely applied for and received a homestead exemption in 2015, 2016, and 2018 for the Ivy Hill Road home.
She is also accused of taking between $2,500 and $30,000 worth of services from Tarrant County labor and utilities.
She was indicted on one count of theft and three counts of tampering with a government record. “We received information concerning potential violations by Judge Wright, and in response our Public Integrity unit investigated,” the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Wednesday. “Evidence discovered in the course of that investigation led to the presentation of charges to a Tarrant County Grand Jury.”
The DA said that the cases will be tried in a Tarrant County criminal court.
Wright has made waves (and gotten negative attention) in recent years for various incidents, including a public warning from the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2015 for seemingly offering a quid pro quo situation in a pending criminal case, and for posting an obscene message on Facebook regarding her then-opponent for her justice of the peace place 4 seat.
In February, Wright’s husband, Ross Ladart, was caught on camera removing the signs of her opponent, Chris Gregory. Wright apologized to Gregory but said her husband did nothing wrong.
Wright filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2011, and the case was deemed fully discharged in 2016. Included in her list of secured creditors is a home on Maryanne Place and the Ivy Hill home. According to the bankruptcy debtors plan, she owed $108,017 in unsecured debt. According to the Texas Tribune’s Government Salary Explorer, Wright’s JP position paid $118,478 a year.
Wright surrendered Wednesday at the Parker County Jail and is out on bond, which was set at $2,500. Tampering with government records and theft of service charges are state felonies and can be punishable by up to two years in jail.
Wright lost her bid for reelection to Gregory in May in a Republican primary runoff election, but is currently serving the remainder of her term through the end of the year. Gregory has no Democratic challenger.