Former Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka Jordan and her husband Mark Jordan pleaded not guilty this week to federal bribery and corruption charges in a Sherman courtroom.
A statement from U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Joe Brown’s office back in May shows the charges as conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery, and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.
Their trial on those charges got underway Tuesday morning with opening arguments which made it clear that in 2013, Mark Jordan was wooing Laura Maczka. Just exactly what he was expecting to get out of the relationship and what he got, is where the rubber hits the road in this tale of a suburban love affair run amok.
If convicted of the charges, each of the Jordans could face up to 20 years in prison and substantial fines. The trial is expected to last around two weeks.
On one side, assistant U.S. attorneys said Mark Jordan was courting a vote on a multi-million dollar apartment complex deal and on the other side, the defense attorneys said he was only chasing the affection of the woman with whom he was having an extra-marital affair.
Both sides admit that while the affair may make both Jordans less than reputable people in their personal lives, it is not a crime. The crime, assistant U.S. attorneys contend, was the influence they say Mark Jordan tried to have over Laura Maczka when he took her on expensive trips and gave her money while she was still mayor of Richardson. It “was corruption, not the coincidental collateral damage from an affair,” the government said in its opening arguments. Attorneys for the government stressed that the key things jurors should look for during the presentation of their case include answers to the questions “Why Mark Jordan gave those items” and “Why the former mayor changed her mind about the apartment complex.”
Defense attorneys stressed that in addition to looking for why, jurors should also consider when those things were done. They stressed the mayor had already changed her mind about not supporting the apartment complex before she ever met Mark Jordan and that none of the votes that approved the project were close to needing the mayor’s vote to pass.
Laura Jordan, whose last name at the time was Maczka, lived in the Canyon Creek subdivision in Richardson and when she was running for the council, the government said, she ran on a platform of not wanting any more apartment complexes to be built near established neighborhoods.
Then, she voted in favor of Mark Jordan’s company, JP-KBS Richardson Holding’s request to be allowed to rezone the property it wanted for a mixed use space that would have apartments plus retail space and eateries.
Eventually, Laura Jordan told the city of Richardson of her relationship with Mark Jordan and the city had an ethics investigation conducted to see whether she had breached any state or city ethics rules. The investigation found she had not, but she decided, in April of 2015, not to seek a second term as mayor.
The government’s first witness Tuesday was Richardson City Manager Dan Johnson.