Decorated Navy Vet Pressures TX Rep Over Corruption Allegations

Texas Rep. Justin Holland | Image by LinkedIn
Texas Rep. Justin Holland | Image by LinkedIn

Texas Rep. Justin Holland’s campaign website now denies accusations reported on by The Dallas Express that he attempted to carry out a corrupt real estate deal involving the family property of a military veteran, but the state lawmaker’s version of events does not appear to align with court filings obtained by DX.

Holland (R-Rockwall), who faces a runoff primary election in June against Katrina Pierson, was appointed receiver of a Rockwall estate in December 2021 after the death of its owner Elizabeth Burks. Allegedly, within two weeks of becoming receiver, he coordinated a discounted sale of one of the estate’s properties to one of his campaign donors, who is a former colleague, as previously reported by DX.

Following the story’s publication, a section appeared on Holland’s website that claims the “Real Estate Allegations” are a “Myth,” and that the property was less valuable than the estate’s beneficiaries, Burks’ family, believed.

“[D]isputes arose over the proposed sales price of the property, leading to contention but no ‘discounts’ were offered,” Holland’s website reads. “The disagreement centered on the perceived value of the property, with the family holding unrealistic expectations regarding the price and process of disposal of the court orders. Holland, facing an impasse, opted to cancel the contract and sought to be released from his duties — a request that the court approved.

“Consequently, the property remains unsold to this day, complicated further by its location in a floodplain and its unattractiveness for development.”

But according to court documents, Holland did not seek to be released from his duties of his own volition. Rather, he stepped down after the beneficiaries of the estate filed a joint motion to either appoint a new receiver or terminate the receivership of the estate entirely.

The motion, filed by the beneficiaries in July 2022, concludes:

“As a result of the manner in which the receivership has been conducted, the Beneficiaries have, collectively, lost confidence in Mr. Holland’s commitment to generating fair market value from the sale of the Properties.

“They wish it were not necessary, but in order to have confidence that the Properties will be sold for full value, the Beneficiaries must respectfully request the Court to appoint a new Receiver or, in the alternative, terminate the receivership and restore full authority over, and custody of, the Properties … to the Independent Executor of the Estate…”

Holland did not respond to a request for comment on the specific allegations of corruption from the family that owns the property, nor did the lawmaker respond to a request for comment in the initial DX report on the real estate deal.

Chris “Riggs” Burks, a member of the family who owns the Rockwall property and a veteran of the United States Navy, told The Dallas Express he was made aware of Holland’s alleged corruption through his own research. He said Holland never listed the property online, never set up a for sale sign outside, and never got an appraisal. However, Holland allegedly set up a political sign at the property.

The family claims Holland attempted to sell their property at $750,000 to Brian Berry, his former colleague on the Heath City Council. They later worked at Med-Tech Construction together. The family claimed this attempted sale was at a $1.2 million discount.

Berry was at one point the mayor of Health when Holland was on the city council, and gifted the latter a plaque when he left to campaign for the Texas House. He donated $11,500 to Holland’s campaign for the Texas House from 2015 to 2017, according to Transparency USA.

“I want the voters to be aware of this because this situation actually happened to my family in Rockwall County,” Burks told The Dallas Express. “When I received the sales contract between Justin Holland and Brian Berry, I really didn’t even know who these two people were because I had been gone so long from Rockwall and the politics of the area while serving in the military.”

“After researching the buyer and the seller on the sales contract, I discovered what appeared to me to be a questionable sales transaction,” he continued. “If Justin Holland had acted like a true real estate professional and picked up the phone and called my family to negotiate a price, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”

Burks said his family spent $45,000 in attorney fees to stop the sale and eventually get Holland removed as receiver of the property.

“I would ask the voters in this election to be diligent when selecting their State Representative for District 33,” he told DX. “And after reviewing the case filed in Rockwall County, to just be aware of who they are electing to represent them in Austin, Texas.”

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