The former mayor of Richardson and a land developer, who she would eventually marry, have been convicted on public corruption charges stemming from zoning changes which paved the way for more than 1,000 new apartments.
The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas in Plano alleges that when she was mayor in 2015, Laura Maczka, 53, took bribes from developer Mark Jordan, 51, and in exchange supported his unpopular 1,000-unit Palisades apartment project.
After a more than three week trial, 54-year-old Laura Jordan, also known as Laura Maczka, and 52-year-old Mark Jordan, both of Plano, Texas, were found guilty by a jury before U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant.
Maczka was found guilty of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery concerning a program receiving federal funds and bribery concerning program receiving federal funds.
Jordan was found guilty of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery concerning a program receiving federal funds and bribery concerning program receiving federal funds.
At sentencing, both face up to 20 years in federal prison.
Laura originally from Liberal Kansas moved to Colorado when she was still in elementary school. Her family then moved to Richardson Texas when she was in the 7th grade. She graduated Richardson ISD and then attended Texas A&M University graduating in 1987.
Laura Maczka served as mayor of Richardson from 2013 until 2015, when details of her affair with a local real estate developer led citizens to demand she step down from a newly-elected term in office. In May of 2018, she and her now-husband Mark Jordan faced seven counts in their indictments, for which a trial began Feb. 25 in Sherman, Texas, about one hour north of Dallas. They pleaded not guilty but were convicted on four charges on March 7.
Indictments against Maczka and Jordan centered around the benefits Jordan allegedly offered — money, home renovations, vacations and a paid position with his business JP-KBS Richardson Holding — for her political support behind a certain development project. The development, a housing complex called Palisades, was controversial and highly contested in Richardson, according to a Department of Justice press release. It included the construction of more than 1,000 new apartments. Maczka declared during her campaign that she would oppose the development but voted in favor of it.
UTD computer science alumnus Miguel Salinas lived in the Palisades apartments, which he said were relatively empty while he lived there between August 2017 and August 2018. He said he wasn’t surprised that Maczka was convicted in the corruption case.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas: “According to information presented in court, from May 2013 through April 2015, Maczka was the mayor of Richardson, Texas, and Jordan was a land developer. Maczka and Jordan conspired to devise and execute a scheme to defraud and deprive City of Richardson residents of the honest services of the Mayor through bribery. Maczka, contrary to her campaign promises, supported and repeatedly voted for controversial zoning changes sought by Jordan ultimately allowing for the construction of over 1,000 new apartments in Richardson near Richardson neighborhoods. The indictment alleges that, in exchange, Jordan paid Maczka over $18,000 in cash and $40,000 by check, paid for over $24,000 in renovations to Maczka’s home, paid for Maczka’s luxury hotel stays and airfare upgrades, and provided Maczka lucrative employment at one of Jordan’s companies. According to court testimony, Maczka and Jordan failed to disclose to the public that they had coordinated to effect the zoning changes Jordan wanted and that Jordan had provided a stream of benefits to Maczka.”
An indictment in the case also alleges that, in addition to the financial gains, “intimate sexual contact” was exchanged for favorable votes.
“This kind of corrupt relationship undermines the public’s confidence in government,” stated Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “This was more than an ethical violation, this was absolutely criminal. We need juries that recognize public corruption for what it is, and support prosecutions that attempt to hold accountable those that cheat.”
“This jury certainly did that,” he said.
On March 7, 2019 Maczka and developer Mark Jordan, Maczka’s current husband, were found guilty in federal court of four counts of bribery and honest services wire fraud. Maczka remains free on bond pending sentencing while Jordan was taken into custody due to fears he may flee
At the April 28, 2015 specially called council meeting, the independent investigator, George A. Staples, presented his report and conclusions on the initial investigation. His summary paragraphs states:
In conclusion, we have found no evidence of any ethical violation under state law, the City Charter, or the Code of Ethics by Mayor Maczka or any member of the City Council with respect to the referenced City Council votes or the Mayor’s announced intention to decline another term of office.
Mr. Staples’ report goes on to say:
However, the overriding interest of the Code of Ethics as stated in Section 2-I is to ensure, “that such officers of the City shall at all times strive to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.” While the facts in this case do not reveal a cognizable violation of the Code of Ethics, it is certainly understandable that the sum of the Mayor’s actions would be viewed by the public as offending the overriding interest of the Code of Ethics. Nevertheless, a failure to avoid the appearance of impropriety does not constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics, City Charter, or state law.
Mr. Staples did note that there was the possibility that the mayor withheld some emails that perhaps had public information that was required to be turned over per the Texas Public Information Act, but that these allegations, if genuine, needed to be followed up by the Public Integrity Unit of the Dallas District Attorney’s Office.
Given his report, Mr. Staples said that no action should be taken by the council, and none was.[
Then Mr. Staples reported on his investigations of the four complaints lodged against the mayor and the council. He told the council:
After an initial review of the complaints, it was my opinion that they failed to allege a violation of the Code of Ethics and did not contain any evidence which would constitute a violation, were vague and lacked detail.
Mr. Staples asked the complainants for follow-up and evidence of wrongdoing, but none was provided. He therefore stated:
It is my opinion that the complaints are insufficient in detail and fail to allege a prima facie violation of the Code of Ethics.
Again, he recommended that no action be taken by the council, and none was.[
After the initial report, Ms. Maczka gave her side of the story. In essence, she divorced in December 2014, but that she and her ex-husband had worked out an agreement by which she and the children would be able to stay in the house, by having her parents cosign the loan. This support would also have allowed Ms. Maczka to continue to serve as mayor, so, urged by her family, she decided to file to run for re-election.
Ms. Maczka said that it was quite by surprise when several months after the loan process began, the loan company – Wells Fargo – told Ms. Maczka that despite the cosigners, that she herself would have to qualify for the loan based on her income, which at this point was virtually zero. This revelation came after it was too late to drop out of the race.
To complicate matters, Ms. Maczka, who had undergone treatment for melanoma eight years before, had a recurrence in January 2015, which required extensive treatment. It also drove home the point that she had to have health insurance now. These two factors convinced her that she needed to give up the mayor’s spot (hence, not take the oath of office, because it was too late to get off the ballot), and get a job with health benefits immediately. A position at JP Realty (the company doing the Palisades project for which vote she was criticized) came open, and she took it.
State and Local Appointments
- (appointed by Texas Governor Perry) Commission on State Emergency Communications, State of Texas[
- Regional Transportation Council
- City of Richardson Parks & Recreation Commission, Vice Chair (appointed 2010) Commissioner (appointed 2007)
- Texas Municipal League Legislative Committee
Other Civic Activities
- Richardson Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Advisory Committee
- Leadership Richardson, Class XXII (2006 – 2007), Advisor (ROC), (2007-2010) Curriculum Chair, Alumnus/Volunteer of the Year (2010)
- Leadership Richardson Advisory Board
- Leadership Richardson Alumni Association Board
- Altrusa International
- Friends of Library Board
- Junior League of Houston, Junior League of Richardson, Junior League of Dallas
- RISD Council of PTA’s Board and Local PTA Boards (Prairie Creek Elementary, North Junior High, and JJ Pearce
- High School) – numerous positions including President multiple times, VP Hospitality, auction chair, VP Ways
- and Means, Legislative Chair, etc. Received PTA Lifetime Membership Award
- RISD Excellence in Education Foundation Board – various positions held
- Inside RISD – Charter Class
- Chair, Discovery Point – raised $160,000 in private funds for outdoor classroom in public park
- Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) Board, Citizen Branch Chair for the State of Texas
- Co-Chair, Vote YES! Bond Campaign (010) – successful $66 million campaign