Corruption trial of former Dallas County Constable Cortes ends in mistrial

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WFAA

Posted on December 6, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 6 at 10:33 PM

DALLAS -- The felony trial of former Dallas County Constable Jaime Cortes ended in a mistrial Thursday.

Judge Jeanine Howard ended jurors' deliberations when they said they were hopelessly deadlocked at 11-to-1 to convict the former Precinct 5 constable of felony charges for filing a false 2007 campaign finance report. The jury began deliberating Wednesday afternoon.

One juror, Gina Cotroneo, said she and 10 others voted for conviction, while one holdout believed Cortes.

"That particular juror just did not believe that Cortes meant to fill out paper work incorrectly," Cotroneo said. "That juror did not believe it was intentional."

Prosecutors claimed Cortes tried to hide thousands in cash proceeds from campaign raffles run by his deputies. Cortes testified he just didn't think the law required him to report contributions as little as $5.00, the price of a raffle ticket.

Raffles for political campaigns are illegal in Texas.

In response to jurors comments, Cortes told reporters outside the courtroom, "That's the way the wheels of justice turn, and obviously this jury felt that -- 11 felt that I was guilty, and one felt that I was not guilty. We'll say maybe if we go to trial again that it's reversed, hopefully for a not guilty."

Special prosecutor Ted Steinke said they plan to retry Cortes in the spring.

"I'm disappointed that this jury did not reach a verdict, but we intend to present it to another jury," he said.

Cortes lost his reelection bid to the constable seat in April 2010. He tendered his resignation to Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins the next month.

If convicted, he could be sentenced up to two years in a state jail.

Regardless how the next trial ends, he said he wants to put it all behind him.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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