Criminal complaint details alleged criminal acts in Harris County court proceedings

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harris county courthouse

A criminal complaint filed last week threatens to lift the veil on how attorneys might operate in Harris County courtrooms and accuses prominent attorneys of criminal acts, conspiracy, and falsely representing documents.

The complaint, filed with the Harris County District Attorney by attorney John LaGrappe, targets one of the best known family law attorneys in Harris County, Bobby Newman, and one of the county’s most famous criminal defense attorneys, Chip Lewis, who has defended high-profile clients such as former Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino, and real estate scion Robert Durst. An associate of Lewis, Jessica Estrada, is also named.

At issue, according to LaGrappe: All three illegally conspired to attempt to get his client yanked off of probation and thrown in jail. They did so, according to LaGrappe, by falsely representing documents as new evidence — and therefore putting LaGrappe’s client in a criminal light — when those documents were actually part of a years-old case.

In a brief interview, Lewis scoffed at LaGrappe for bringing such a complaint.

Newman did not respond to a request for comment.

The criminal complaint revolves around a case on Family Court. LaGrappe has been facing off against Bobby Newman in a family law custody case. While those cases can be ugly, this one seems to be uglier still. The only reason the public can get a glimpse into the inner workings of the case is because of LaGrappe’s criminal complaint.

And if attorneys criticizing each others’ conduct in public is rare, an attorney filing a criminal complaint against fellow barristers is the rarest of the rare.

“I’ve been practicing law 26 years,” LaGrappe said. “I’d never thought I’d have to file a criminal complaint. This is something that rarely happens. The reason I’m having to do it is because of the evidence I’ve found and because of what they did. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The complaint is now before Harris County District Court Judge Jan Krocker. She will decide if a special prosecutor will look into the matter.

At the center of it all is the case itself. LaGrappe’s client, Kora Leach, and Bobby Newman’s client, Jamea Rooney, are pitted against each other in a contentious custody fight.

Indeed, the reason Leach was on probation at all was because she was charged with aggravated assault in a confrontation with Rooney in 2016 during an argument over which parent would have their daughter that weekend.

The charge was later lowered to a misdemeanor assault and Leach was given 24 months probation.

In 2017, LaGrappe was in the process of securing an early release from probation for Leach when he found “the judge was going to file a motion to revoke my client’s probation,” LaGrappe said.

It was then he learned that his opposing attorneys had gone to the judge with fliers they said Leach had been passing around the neighborhood in violation of her parole. The fliers depicted dead dogs that Rooney had reportedly killed.

Just last month someone came forward, LaGrappe said, who showed that Newman purportedly used the old documents — those fliers were actually only distributed in 2013, according to LaGrappe — and sold them to the court as new evidence. LaGrappe also has depositions that show Newman knew those fliers were distributed in 2013.

“They wanted my client to have her probation revoked, so that if her probation were revoked she’d be in jail and she wouldn’t be able to successfully prosecute her family law case,” LaGrappe said. “The problem here is that they basically gave a judge evidence and they misrepresented what the evidence was to the judge. From the emails and the evidence, their actions were deliberate. You cannot, basically, give evidence to a court and misrepresent it. If you do, you violate the Texas Penal Code.”

LaGrappe’s complaint is also critical of Lewis’ role in the case.

“There are emails and documents that show Bobby Newman referred James Rooney to Chip Lewis for the sole purpose of having criminal charges brought against Kora Leach,” LaGrappe said.

LaGrappe calls a March 17, 2017 letter he received from Lewis as “strange.”

“The letter, it was a strange letter, it contained a lot of demands from a lawyer named Chip Lewis and Mr. Lewis basically threatened my client with criminal prosecution. Mr. Lewis is not a prosecutor,” LaGrappe said. “It’s very rare in a family law case to have a family lawyer refer their client to a criminal defense lawyer for the sole purpose of having criminal charges brought against their opponent.”

LaGrappe said he found the letter, which also references the fliers, threatening.

“The letter from Mr. Lewis? You read it. And you tell me if that’s anything but extortion,” LaGrappe said.

Lewis said he did, indeed, take Rooney on as a client — and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. He also said all of the evidence presented to the court was solid.

“My client was the victim of an aggravated assault,” Lewis told The Texas Monitor. “The defendant continued to harass my client in direct violation of the no-contact provision. My cease and desist letter gave her the opportunity to stop. She failed to do so and my client asked us to report the defendant’s violation to the court. The information we furnished the court was corroborated by sworn affidavit of an independent witness.”

Lewis added: “We invite anyone look into the matter. They will clearly see we did nothing approaching improper.”

There is no timeline for Judge Krocker to make a decision in connection with LaGrappe’s criminal complaint.

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that JJudge Jan Krocker was the judge in the custody case. That was incorrect and the Texas Monitor regrets the error.

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Harp Kalsi owner of https://www.yelp.com/biz/mr-smoke-houston-2 likes for Naved Jafry to ride his only son Evan Gillis-Kalsi around in his limo to impress his friends. Money for the limo was used from ripping families off in Houston Texas behind a fake oil and gas company called zeon.org. Kalsi family has ties to Naved Jafry Houston Texas. Mr. Jafry tried to rip off Hud but got caught see below:
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/17/johnson-joy-naved-jafry-housing-department-religious-charity

  2. I don’t think a lot of people know Mr. Rooney. I’v know him since he was 19 years old and he’ a good man. I know for a fact his kids love him. And Kennedy can’t wait to come home the first thing she asked is (is daddy home). I can tell you this I’ve known him for many years and when the flood hit last year I was left with absolutely nothing. The first person that reached out and helped me with Mickey Rooney. He gave me and my two dogs a roof over our head when we didn’t have nowhere to go. And as I was getting on my feet he gave me the money to pay for a used washer and dryer because I didn’t have enough money to get anything. So don’t tell me this me in his bed he’s a very good man.

  3. How does a 40 year old woman who is alledged to be unemployed, unwed, a non-heiress residing in her mother’s basement, able to keep footing her very very expensive criminal and civil court defense against such high priced superlawyers? It is alledged Kora quickly came up with over ten thousand dollars for court fees which alledgedly, came directly from an account belonging to John Lagrappe. John Lagrappe is alledged to be married. You do the math.
    Chip Lewis is an excellent honest lawyer who has helped me get justice in the system and he doesn’t need a previously-disbarred-criminal-loud-mouth like Lagrappe throwing salt on his name. Lagrappe is blowing smoke up everyone’s backside; the boy who and his alleged creepy multiple baby daddy girlfriend who cry wolf.

    • I agree 100%. Not to mention LaGrappe fails to disclose all of Kora’s dirty laundry to the public. The countless false complaints to CPS, it’s against the law to file false complaints to a government agency!! How is Kora allowed to harass Mr. Rooney and file false complaints to CPS while she’s on probation and get away with it????

      I guess when you’re up against the best superlawyers and you’re a disbarred-criminal-loud-mouth such as LaGrappe you can only fight dirty and slander great lawyers. LaGrappe’s actions are one who has an emotional attachment to his client, Kora.

      They always say birds of feathers flock together.

  4. Kora Leach has harassed James Rooney and his son for years. She’s tried to harm his oldest son. This poor attempt by her attorney is once again to bully Mr. Rooney. Kora’s probation states she is not to harass Mr. Rooney, she was posting the fliers and other lies on the family site her and Mr. Rooney communiate through. Mr. Rooney asked her several times to take them down and she would not. It was in February 2017 at the time when all of this first took place, Kora posting on family site and in his yard Mr. Rooney didn’t even know Kora was pregnant. LaGrappe leaves out important information because he wants the public to pity his client. The victim has the right to report the person on probation for harassing them. She’s no angel, you wouldn’t believe the things she has done. She shouldn’t be allowed to have any children. When she hit Mr. Rooney with the car it was Mr. Rooney’s visitation. This woman has falsely called CPS at least 15 times on Mr. Rooney and his son. LaGrappe and Kora Leach are the ones who are dirty and fight dirty because his client is mentally ill and needs medical help. Normal people do not falsely call CPS with unruly false accucations. CPS has been to Mr. Rooney’s home numerous times and there’s never been any merit. The judge didn’t grant the temporarty orders to Kora because she’s lying and it’s apparent. Per Kora’s affidavit she filed with the court she claimed she had a video yet she didn’t provide the video because there isn’t one!!! You have to have proof you idiot, and if in fact it was true why didn’t she go to the police department and file a report; because she was lying!!!!!!! All it would have taken is for her to provide the court with a video to back her claim. When that didn’t work she once again called CPS, and again no merit. Kora is nothing but a liar all her complaints with CPS are for no other reason than to bully Mr. Rooney into giving her the little girl, she has nothing to offer the little girl. She’s been watching too much Lifetime. All the kids love to be at Mr. Rooney’s house and in ALL the years of the kids hanging out at their dads house NOT ONE TIME HAS SOMETHING EVER HAPPENED TO HIS KIDS OR THEIR FRIENDS. Never ever any complaints from any of the kids parents not CPS complaints from the kids parents. As many times as this foul woman has falsely called CPS it has always been ruled out. Not to mention the numerous welfare calls Kora has called and again NOTHING. I’ve never seen a happier kid than the one in question. Mr. Rooney has a close bond with his little girl. Given that Kora is on probation she hasn’t been able to interfer. LaGrappe & Kora have nothing, they’re rotten and fight dirty. If you really want the truth pull the case it’s opened to the public, then you can have a true picture and not just LaGrappe’s sad attempt at further harassing Mr. Rooney.

  5. I was stabbed in the chest bye an officer at Baker street ..with a pen…..waiting to go to the Harris County Boot Camp…..Reported it…..While I was there …was slapped in the back of the head by D.I. Thompson,,,,and choked by D.I. Rodriguez. The made my life hell there… Had a lie detector test ran on me….past it…..After I got out of baker street….got a letter from the D.A. office….for a metting …went so the D.A.s office to tell me that she was not proceeding in my case….I pressed charges ….and nothing happened…….

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