Political activist and donor Steven Hotze was indicted on two felony charges. The indictment stems from his alleged connection to the holdup of an air conditioning repairman in 2020 during an unsanctioned search for fraudulent mail ballots.
Hotze, 71, was indicted by a Harris County grand jury and now faces one count of unlawful restraint and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Hotze hired more than a dozen private investigators to hunt for voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Among those employed was ex-Houston Police Captain Mark Aguirre, who was arrested and charged with aggravated assault in December 2020.
Prosecutors allege that Aguirre used his vehicle to run an air conditioner repair person’s truck off the road early on October 19, 2020.
Afterward, Aguirre allegedly held the repairman at gunpoint, instructed an accomplice to examine his truck, and called for police, as per court documents.
When a Houston Police officer arrived on the scene to investigate, Aguirre claimed the truck contained 750,000 illegal ballots manufactured by Democrats. However, a search of the vehicle found no fraudulent ballots.
Aguirre was subsequently arrested but is currently free on bond while awaiting trial. One of the conditions of his release is that he does not work for Hotze.
After Aguirre’s arrest, it came out that he was hired by Hotze’s Liberty Center for God and Country (LCGC). The organization claims to “promote and protect our God-given, unalienable Constitutional rights and liberties,” in part by “support[ing] legal efforts that protect these liberties.”
Records provided to the grand jury show that Aguirre received payments of $266,400 from LCGC. Most of that amount, $211,400, was paid to Aguirre the day after the alleged holdup at gunpoint.
The Harris County District Attorney’s office cites Section 7.02 of the Texas Penal Code in its arguments to charge Hotze. The statute defines criminal responsibility for the conduct of another.
“A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if, … acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense,” reads the statute.
Hotze’s attorney, Gary Polland, called the charges against Hotze “outrageous” and stated that his client did not know about the roadside incident until media reports came out.
“Mr. Hotze was not aware of what Aguirre was doing and was not a party to any crime,” Polland told The Texan, adding that Hotze “will vigorously defend himself.”
Polland asserted that Aguirre had requested the money from Hotze to investigate possible electoral fraud, but Hotze’s compliance with the request was the extent of his participation in Aguirre’s activities.
“All I know is Hotze didn’t aid or abet this in any way,” Polland said. “The donation of funds was for a righteous activity of rooting out ballot fraud.”
Polland added that Hotze does not intend to alter his plans for monitoring Houston’s elections due to the indictments. On April 2, Hotze co-hosted a fundraiser with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the “Freedom Gala.” Hotze pledged to use donations from the gala to look into allegations of voter fraud in the state.