Contrary to some recent news reports, University Park residents Dave and Stacy Cary haven’t relocated from their Lovers Lane home to an adjacent municipality.
“I see now we are the ‘Highland Park’ couple,” Dave Cary joked, referencing an error in media coverage of the belated acquittal of deposed former Collin County judge Suzanne Wooten. On May 24, she was declared innocent of state bribery and money laundering charges.
“Obviously we don’t know Judge Wooten personally, but we know she is innocent and so are very happy about that,” Dave Cary said.
The Carys became entangled in an investigation of Wooten after her upset of State District Judge Charles Sandoval in the 2008 Republican Primary.
Sandoval complained to then DA John Roach, and the investigation that followed eventually focused on Wooten’s campaign consultant, James Stephen Spencer, who also had a business relationship with the Carys.
After multiple grand juries, prosecutions followed. Defense attorneys described them as an attempt to overturn an election.
According to news reports, prosecutors contended Spencer couldn’t have afforded campaign expenditures he made without $150,000 in payments from Stacy Cary.
Those payments were consulting fees for business advice related to Stacy Cary’s companies and Spencer’s assistance with lobbying for parental rights legislation, Dave Cary explained.
But prosecutors insisted the payments were made in a bribery scheme to replace the judge hearing a custody case over Dave Cary’s children.
Once seated, Wooten recused herself from the custody case, but another judge in 2010 gave Dave Cary primary custody.
Four criminal trials followed, with juries convicting Wooten and the Carys. Sandoval pleaded guilty. Dave Cary was the only one to serve prison time.
Wooten was forced to resign, and had her law license suspended.
In 2015, the Fifth Court of Appeals unanimously found trial evidence insufficient to support Dave Cary’s conviction, a ruling upheld unanimously in December 2016 by the Court of Criminal Appeals. Texas’ highest criminal court applied the ruling also to Stacy Cary.
With the ruling now applied also to Wooten, the former judge and her attorney, Peter Schulte, may take on what they describe in news reports as “the corrupt politics of Collin County” again by filing malicious prosecution lawsuit.
As for University Park’s Carys, they are thankful to live in Dallas County.
“I still feel it is very puzzling that more people are not jumping up and down that a fair election of a judge was sabotaged,” Dave Cary said. “If I didn’t know anything else, that would deeply disturb me.”