Stockman Ends Defense Without Testifying
Former Texas lawmaker’s lawyers call only two witnesses
The defense for former Texas Rep. Steve Stockman’s fraud trial rested Thursday after calling only two witnesses to the stand.
The former Republican congressman chose not to testify in his own defense, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Stockman’s is on trial for 28 charges including using more than $1.25 million meant for charitable causes to pay for campaign and personal expenses while not paying taxes.
The defense’s second witness, Stevie Bidjoua Sianard-Roc, had flown in from Africa and testified about multiple trips Stockman made to the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“In Africa, Steve is like family to us,” she said.
Sianard-Roc said during Stockman’s meetings he met with multiple government ministers and donated three boxes of medicine. She also said that Stockman donated an iPad to her husband.
The first witness for Stockman’s defense was a student who said Stockman helped pay for her to attend a Christian summer camp.
But Sianard-Roc said she did not know that Stockman was working on a deal with an oil company while in Africa when questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Ellersick.
When asked by Stockman’s attorney Sean Buckley about whether Stockman was interested in Africa, Sianard-Roc responded by saying “absolutely.”
Stockman’s other attorney Gary Tabakman said after adjournment that Stockman had traveled to Africa since the 1990s.
Buckley and Tabakman both said they would have brought other witnesses to the stand but were not allowed to do so as the rules of evidence require witnesses remain within the bounds of the charges.
Buckley also said he wanted to show the trips to Africa were not a ruse to raise money, according to Houston Public Media.
The defense and prosecution are expected to make closing arguments Monday.