The former mayor of Hempstead, Michael Wolfe, is facing new accusations stemming from his time in office. Wolfe was first charged in 2019 with abuse of official capacity.
Waller County special prosecutor Warren Diepraam said Wolfe was accused of keeping his daughter’s and his utilities from being disconnected even though they had delinquent account balances in the amounts of $9,863.08 and $10,560.91 respectively.
Diepraam said from there, investigators kept digging.
“Anybody who was a friend of the mayors was getting crossed off, and their utility bills were being put on hold,” said Diepraam.
Wolfe’s attorney, Ralph Martinez, disputes his client did anything wrong. Martinez said Wolfe, in his capacity as mayor, had the authority to grant extensions under special circumstances to those with delinquent accounts. Martinez said Wolfe tried to help those who hit financial trouble from having their utilities disconnected.
Martinez also said Wolfe and his daughter’s accounts were repaid in full and “most” of the money owed in other accounts has also been repaid.
Beyond utility bills, Diepraam said further investigation also uncovered questionable purchases on Wolfe’s city-issued credit card.
“There were Netflix accounts, there were multiple gas charges that essentially couldn’t even be possible for one car,” said Diepraam.
Martinez said he does not believe prosecutors have enough evidence to support the claim against his client.
Diepraam said most recently Wolfe was accused of violating state bidding requirements, which call for contracts $50,000 and above to go through a competitive bidding process.
“The mayor was undercutting the $50,000 amount on city streets and the repairs, and they were all going to one company without the bidding process,” Diepraam added.
Waller County court records show Wolfe is facing two felonies and a misdemeanor, and Diepraam says the investigation is not over.
“We’re not finished looking at all the conduct over an eight-year period,” said Diepraam. “The suspicious charges, and the suspicious billing practices and the bidding practices are being looked at freshly, with new independent eyes.”
Martinez said he has not yet had time to review the most recent allegations against Wolfe but believes the entire investigation is politically motivated. Wolfe lost his last bid for re-election.
Diepraam said prosecutors are preparing to go to trial this November.