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Former Houston-area GOP chairman accused of stealing

DALLAS (AP) — A former Houston-area Republican Party chairman is accused of misapplying funds at his law firm and stealing from clients, according to court documents released Tuesday.

The documents come a day after Jared Woodfill’s law office was raided by investigators with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Authorities reported seizing more than 125 boxes of case files. The details are from an affidavit tied to a search warrant for the raid.

A spokesman for the district attorney’s office on Tuesday said Woodfill has not been charged.

A former client has accused Woodfill of illegally misapplying funds from her divorce, according to an affidavit tied to a search warrant for the law office. The woman, who said she filed for divorce in 2012 and hired Woodfill in December 2013, said he applied unearned funds “for the benefit of third parties for services that were not rendered on her behalf, but on the behalf of other clients,” the affidavit says.

Authorities say Woodfill was given a $225,000 payment to represent the woman in her divorce case. But, according to the affidavit, he commingled the payment with other client funds and made “third-party payments” not related to the woman.

According to the affidavit, bank documents indicted that an initial $75,000 retainer from a separate client was deposited into Woodfill’s bank account in 2013. But, it said an ending balance indicated he used more than $45,000 from the client’s retainer “for purposes not related to her case.”

Kenneth Kennedy, the law firm’s controller, told authorities that Woodfill required him on “numerous occasions” to transfer funds that had not been earned yet. He described how Woodfill “robbed Peter to pay Paul” using account funds, according to the affidavit. Kennedy also reported that he has given temporary personal loans to help Woodfill and the law firm meet “both personal and firm financial obligations.”

Woodfill’s tenure as chairman of the Harris County Republican Party ended in 2014 after serving in the post for 12 years.

A message seeking comment from Woodfill was not immediately returned.

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