Mark Crawford Trial: 1999
Evidence Of A Body, Suppressed Evidence And Conflicting Testimony, Enter The Feds
Defendant: Mark Crawford
Crimes Charged: Murder in aid of racketeering, racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, kidnapping, conspiracy to embezzle, embezzlement, wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, perjury, obstruction of justice by killing a witness, obstruction of justice by retaliating against a witness, conspiracy to threaten to commit a crime of violence against an individual
Chief Defense Lawyer: William May
Chief Prosecutor. Mark E. Cullers
Judge: Oliver W. Wanger
Place: Fresno, California
Date of Trial: June 22-August 20, 1999
Sentence: Life in prison
SIGNIFICANCE: Crawford was acquitted of murder in a state court but convicted of murder of a federal witness in federal court. The same person was murdered, but the two crimes were different, the court held, and therefore Crawford was not subjected to double jeopardy.
Mark Crawford looked like a poster boy for hard work and rectitude. Born dirt-poor in Maryland, he joined the army at 17. After two hitches, he and his wife moved to Ingleside, Texas, where he became a welder. He made a lot of friends in Ingleside, a small Gulf Coast town across the bay from Corpus Christi, taught Sunday school, and for the first time in his life was making a good income. In 1988, to the consternation of his wife, he quit his job and ran for mayor. Surprisingly, he won at the age of 33—mostly, according to the former mayor, because of his righteous image.
Crawford also started a construction business, but that venture was less fortunate. It failed. Undiscouraged, he started a new business, an employee leasing firm called Superior Staffing. The new business prospered.
Crawford began buying fancy cars, a boat and a beach house. People began to talk. For the first time, it seems, a substantial number of people in the area began to have their doubts about Crawford. After his second term as mayor, Crawford ran for the state senate but was defeated. The defeat didn't slow him down. He dropped out of politics and bought another business, Viking Casualty Co., that he operated in partnership with a Houston entrepreneur named Nick Brueggan. Tongues really began wagging when the IRS closed down Superior Staffing and seized Crawford's assets. The IRS said the former mayor had been cheating the federal government out of tax money. But Crawford just acquired new assets. There seemed to be no end to his money.
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